We Are Our Brains: A Neurobiography of the Brain, from the Womb to Alzheimer’s

D F Swaab, Author, Jane Hedley-Prole, Translator
D.F. Swaab, trans. from the Dutch by Jane Hedley-Prôle. Spiegel & Grau, $28 (404p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9296-0
Reviewed on: 10/28/2013
Release date: 01/07/2014
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-14-197823-9
Hardcover - 432 pages - 978-0-241-00372-5
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How the brain works is one of modern science’s great questions, and Dutch neurobiologist Swaab, in sharing his 45 years of collected wisdom, reveals the organ as a living being in and of itself. It’s a fascinating survey and though Swaab embraces the impossibility of arriving at scientific conclusions, he never lacks for carefully selected information. Broadly speaking, the book is organized chronologically, examining the brain from birth into adolescence, through adulthood and, finally, to death. Disorders, which provide incredible insights into normally functioning brains, are included in most sections. Swaab employs both personal and scientific observation in near-equal measure. Sometimes the first person perspective can result in questionable conclusions; for example, Swaab’s chapter on sports and the brain seems to come down unnecessarily hard on athletics, and takes with a grain of salt significant research into the neurological benefits of sports. Nevertheless, as the author makes clear early on, his insights are not conclusions. They are instead compelling starting points, collectively working—as we learn neurons do—to build a comprehensive, functional picture of the human brain. Illus. (Jan.)
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