Books on the Brain
Several new nonfiction titles focus on the brain, “the boss of our body,” as I used to tell my young daughter.
Head case: my brain and other wonders by Cole Cohen. 616.8 COH
For as long as she could remember, twenty-seven-year-old Cole Cohen had struggled with a series of learning disabilities that made it nearly impossible to judge time and space–standing at a cross walk, she couldn’t tell you if an oncoming car would arrive in ten seconds or thirty; if you asked her to let you know when ten minutes had passed, she might notify you in a minute or an hour. She was given a shocking diagnosis–doctors had found a large hole in her brain responsible for her life-long struggles. Because there aren’t established tools to rely on in the wake of this unprecedented and mysterious diagnosis, Cole and her doctors and family create them, and discover firsthand how best to navigate the unique world that Cole lives in. Told without an ounce of self-pity and plenty of charm and wit, Head Case is ultimately a story of triumph, as we watch this passionate, loveable, and unsinkable young woman chart a path for herself.
The future of the mind by Michio Kaku. 612.8 KAK
This deeply fascinating book by theoretical physicist Kaku explores what might be in store for our minds: practical telepathy and telekinesis; artificial memories implanted into our brains; and a pill that will make us smarter. He describes work being done right now on using sensors to read images in the human brain and on downloading artificial memories into the brain to treat victims of strokes and Alzheimer’s. SF fans might experience a sort of breathless thrill when reading the book: This stuff is happening! It’s really happening!
The upright thinkers: The human journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos by Leonard Mlodinow, 509 MLO
A selective, guided tour of the human accumulation of knowledge from American physicist and former CalTech instructor Mlodinow. He throws out ideas and theories that are consistently thought-provoking, e.g., “Animal brains first evolved for the most primal of reasons: to better enable motion.” The author divides the book into three sections: the development of the human mind, touching down at critical junctures; the revolutionary entrance of the hard sciences; and quantum physics. Mlodinow also reacquaints readers with significant characters, from Galileo to Planck, who made the incomprehensible comprehensible. A breathtaking survey of the human mind exponentially accelerating the accumulation of knowledge, from pratfalls to ventures beyond the veil.
Grain Brain: The surprising truth about wheat, carbs and sugar – your brain’s silent killers by David Perlmutter, MD, 613.2 Per
“Gluten is our generation’s tobacco,” argues Perlmutter, whose credentials as a board-certified neurologist and American College of Nutrition Fellow make him a uniquely qualified voice in the debate about which foods are best for the brain and body. Gluten, most commonly found in wheat products, plays a significant role in pernicious health issues relating to the brain. Bucking the mainstream notion that fat and cholesterol lead to poor health, the author proposes that the carbohydrate-laden foods that form the staple of many diets may cause brain problems as diverse as migraines, ADHD, Parkinson’s, depression, anxiety and more. Alongside numerous professional anecdotes detailing the successes of a diet without carbs but with omega-3 fats, the author provides abundant lists of “good” and “bad” foods, a 30-day plan of action that includes suggested meals, and a slate of gluten-free recipes.
Complied by Ina Rimpau