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.
In this ground-breaking book, Dr. Karen Pape provides a compelling mix of the latest discoveries in brain science with a professional memoir of her decades-long personal struggle to help children whom the medical profession had largely written off as beyond help. As a neonatologist, Dr. Pape became interested in why some babies with brain damage recover fully while others develop cerebral palsy.
In Anil Ananthaswamy's new book, he delves into the latest neuroscience research about major brain diseases like schizophrenia and autism, as well as some not-so-mainstream issues like out-of-body experiences and odd and rare mental disorders. With his leaning towards personal storytelling and case studies, Ananthaswamy is clearly influenced by the oeuvre of Oliver Sacks, but adds his own voice and style to the field.
This brand new book has already been shortlisted for several nonfiction prizes, for its poetic, soul-baring look at the reality of life as a brain surgeon. Marsh reminds us that brain surgeons are above all, imperfect but caring humans. For more about the book, you can listen to Henry Marsh’s recent interview with Terry Gross from NPR’s Fresh Air.
How did early “scientists” research the brain? By waiting for something traumatic to happen and seeing what effect it had. In The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons, Sam Kean describes some of the weirdest, wildest cases of brain injury, trauma, disease, and discovery as he details the fits and starts of learning about the complexities of the human brain over the past several centuries. But this no serious science tome: Kean keeps it lighthearted and funny for this history lesson.
What would it be like to wake up one day after a lifetime of average academic performance and find that you had become a math genius? That’s essentially what happened to Jason Padgett. After a violent mugging, Padgett suffered from a brain injury that had an astonishing and unexpected effect: he started to see the world as a manifestation of math. In this autobiography, Padgett shares his very unique experience and how he embraced his new brain.
What if you had the power to change your brain for the better? In Soft-Wired, Dr. Michael Merzenich—co-founder of Posit Science and a world authority on brain plasticity--explains how the brain rewires itself across the lifespan, and how you can take control of that process to improve your life.
Recent college graduate Susannah Cahalan was on the brink of starting her adult life as a reporter—until one day, she woke up in a hospital room after a month-long stay, with no memory of what had happened or why she was there. As she slid deeper into madness and catatonia, doctors failed to find a diagnosis until neurologist Souhel Najjar figured out the medical mystery and saved her life and her mind. Brain on Fire is a compelling, sometimes heart-stopping read from a promising young author.
At age 25, Ashok Rajamani suffered a brain bleed, and found he had to relearn how to do almost everything, including simple things like eating, talking, and so forth. His family supported him through the event and the intervening years of a slow and difficult recovery, which continues still, ten years post-bleed. Rajamani mostly tells his story with humor and irreverence, but his recounting of his painful recovery period is moving and heartfelt. He is an inspired survivor who weaves a revelatory tale of overcoming enormous odds.