Book Review - Your Brain: The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald
When you think about it, the thing we think *with* is one of the biggest mysteries to us. In Your Brain: The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald, you'll gain some level of understanding about how the brain works, what makes it tick, and how you can manipulate it to work better. Even better, you don't have to be a brain surgeon to understand it all.
Part 1 - Warming Up: A Lap Around the Brain; Brain Food - Healthy Eating; Sleep - Taking Your Brain Offline
Part 2 - Exploring Your Brain: Perception; Memory; Emotions; Reason; Your Personality
Part 3 - Understanding Other People's Brains: The Battle of the Sexes; The Developing Brain
The thing I appreciate most about the Missing Manual series is the way they are designed to be readable for a "normal" person. Part 1 takes you through more of the "hardware" part of the brain... what the different parts are, the roles they serve, and how they interact with each other. Couple clear writing with plenty of illustrations, and you end up with a firm foundation in Brain 101. From there, MacDonald starts digging into more of the "software" aspect of the brain, as in how are memories stored. He uses the most current studies and findings to explain what makes you, you. The items that made this exceptionally interesting to me are the examples of people who, through some abnormality in the brain, don't quite process things the same way we do. For instance, "Henry M." had his hippocampus removed in 1953 to prevent seizures. The side-effect was that he lost his ability to form long-term memories. Imagine your mind stuck in a time warp, where your last memory is as it was before your surgery. Anything presented to you since then only lasts a few minutes before you have absolutely no recollection of it. By tracking what he could and couldn't do in this state, researchers were able to draw conclusions as to what role the hippocampus played in memory. That kind of stuff is something that amazes me, and confirms the fact that we still only have a fraction of a clue as to how the mind works.
If you're at all interested about your mind, or if you're simply curious about how such things as optical illusions work, this would be a great book to read.