In his latest book, neuroscientist Adrian Owen explores the “gray zone”—the space between full consciousness and brain death, where people have working minds in damaged bodies. Dr. Owen’s research suggests that up to 20% of people once thought to be in vegetative states are actually in this “gray zone”—aware and capable of thought on some level, but immobile. What are the implications of this discovery for the patients themselves, as well as for legislation, families, religion, and insurance? What even counts as life? Dr. Owen attempts to answer these questions and more.
The aging brain
Atul Gawande has grown his audience with his smart, spot-on pieces in the New Yorker, and his excellent books are proving no less popular or worthwhile. Gawande, a concise and measured writer as well as a working surgeon and professor, discusses the miracles of modern medicine and how the American medical system can drastically err in the context of end-of-life care, death, and the process of dying. Some have called this book a “game-changer” and “required reading for every American.”
This book is conversational in tone but the stories it touches on go from hilarious to heartbreaking in a matter of moments. Ropper, a Harvard professor and clinician who counts Michael J. Fox among his patients, brings some of his most fascinating neurological patients to life. Written very much in the tradition of the Oliver Sacks oeuvre, Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole manages to be fun and informative at the same time.
Usually we share a neuroscience-based book, but this month we can’t pass up the opportunity to share 30 Lessons in Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans. This collection, by renowned Cornell University gerontologist Karl Pillemer, is the result of Pillemer’s years of study with over 1,000 older adults from a range of social, economic, and educational backgrounds. He has compiled the wisdom he has learned from conversations with people reflecting on what they did right and wrong in their long lives.
Now a #1 New York Times bestseller, The Future of the Mind combines reality, research, and science fiction concepts to predict where we will be with our brains in the near future. Kaku has a knack for predictions and a terrific understanding of the present state of neuroscience, and his exploration of the possibilities that await us will surprise and delight you.
In her fourth book about brain science, Judith Horstman tackles the aging brain with a positive perspective—that aging is not a disease, but a reward for being lucky enough to have a long life. Her tone is optimistic and constructive, and her suggestions are based on scientific evidence. She discusses the different types and causes of mental decline in a forthright and practical manner, and reminds the reader that there are ways to combat and reverse many types of decline.
People are living longer and longer—and many of us may well live past 100 years old. What does the future hold for this brave new world of centenarians? Futurist Sonia Arrison discusses how this coming age of super-longevity could affect everything in our world, from family life to finances, to medicine, healthcare, religion, and globalization.