'One of the clearest and best-illustrated attempts to explain the virtually inaccessible, the brain' SUNDAY TIMES
Rita Carter is a medical writer, contributing to, among others, the Independent, New Scientist, the Daily Mail and the Telegraph. She was twice awarded the Medical Journalists' Association prize for outstanding contribution to medical journalism.
Award-winning British medical writer Carter surveys the current state of medical technology that allows us to peer into the human brain. In a crisp and engaging style, Carter briefly describes early attempts at psychosurgery and then summarizes what science can now tell us about the architecture of the brain. She also provides fascinating glimpses into certain neurological disorders (especially autism), an anatomy of human emotions, and an engrossing discussion of perception and language. The chapter devoted to memory is especially noteworthy, as is a final discussion of human awareness. While many recent publications have concentrated in more detail on various functions of the brain (V.S. Ramachandran's Phantoms in the Brain, LJ 10/15/98; Frank Wilson's The Hand, LJ 7/98), Mapping the Mind, with its excellent illustrations and well-placed sidebars, will appeal to a general audience not yet exposed to the newest research in neuroscience. Public libraries will be well served by this book.‘Laurie Bartolini, MacMurray Coll. Lib., Springfield, IL
fascinating stuff * BIG ISSUE IN THE NORTH *
It's fascinating to understand how much of our personality is directly related to brain function. -- Daniel Johns, University Bookseller * WESTERN MORNING NEWS *
Well researched...this is a good read for the specialist or general scientist, or anyone inetrested in things of or about the mind. * SCHOOL SCIENCE REVIEW *
Carter, a distinguished English medical journalist, has written a handsome and very accessible book designed to introduce laypeople to contemporary neurochemistry, neurobiology and brain research. Carter shows how this research has traced emotions, impressions, thoughts and behaviors‘from tasting a sprig of thyme to solving a math problem to killing an intruder‘to particular parts of the brain. Descriptions of normal brain function are interspersed with details about the research and about extraordinary, illuminating cases: of the woman to whom the name "Richard" tasted like chocolate, of the man who tried to have sex with a sidewalk. Readers learn that sense-data from the eyes and ears go first to the thalamus; that falling in love may be caused by a single chemical called oxytocin; and that one thinker, Itzhak Fried, has hypothesized "syndrome E," a neurobiological disorder, in young men who carry out genocides. Mixing established knowledge with new speculations, Carter takes care to tell readers which is which. She strews her text with bright diagrams and pictures, and avoids specialized or technical language: readers of Scientific American, or even of Oliver Sacks, may find themselves wishing for more detail. Carter seems to be writing for adults and teens who don't know the field and want to learn it, and she does it right. Short inset essays (some by distinguished scientists, others by Carter) address such specific topics as the chemistry of drug addiction, the origins of autism and alleged differences between gay and straight brains. 100 color & 50 b&w illustrations. (Mar.)