Mind Wide Open by Steven Johnson
Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life

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Using a mix of experiential reportage, personal storytelling, and fresh scientific discovery, Steven Johnson describes how the brain works -- its chemicals, structures, and subroutines -- and how these systems connect to the day-to-day realities of individual lives. For a hundred years, he says, many of us have assumed that the most powerful route to self-knowledge took the form of lying on a couch, talking about our childhoods. The possibility entertained in this book is that you can follow another path, in which learning about the brain's mechanics can widen one's self-awareness as powerfully as any therapy or meditation or drug.
In Mind Wide Open, Johnson embarks on this path as his own test subject, participating in a battery of attention tests, learning to control video games by altering his brain waves, scanning his own brain with a $2 million fMRI machine, all in search of a modern answer to the oldest of questions: who am I?
Along the way, Johnson explores how we "read" other people, how the brain processes frightening events (and how we might rid ourselves of the scars those memories leave), what the neurochemistry is behind love and sex, what it means that our brains are teeming with powerful chemicals closely related to recreational drugs, why music moves us to tears, and where our breakthrough ideas come from.
Johnson's clear, engaging explanation of the physical functions of the brain reveals not only the broad strokes of our aptitudes and fears, our skills and weaknesses and desires, but also the momentary brain phenomena that a whole human life comprises. Why, when hearing a tale of woe, do we sometimes smile inappropriately, even if we don't want to? Why are some of us so bad at remembering phone numbers but brilliant at recognizing faces? Why does depression make us feel stupid?
To read Mind Wide Open is to rethink family histories, individual fates, and the very nature of the self, and to see that brain science is now personally transformative -- a valuable tool for better relationships and better living.

About Steven Johnson

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STEVEN JOHNSON is the author of the bestsellers The Invention of Air, The Ghost Map, Everything Bad Is Good for You, and Mind Wide Open, as well as Emergence and Interface Culture. He is the founder of a variety of influential websites—currently, outside.in—and is a contributing editor to Wired. He lives in Brooklyn, with his wife and sons.
Published February 27, 2004 by Scribner. 294 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Self Help, Science & Math, Business & Economics, Nature & Wildlife, Law & Philosophy, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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An enthusiastic invitation to explore your mind from science writer Johnson (Emergence, 2001, etc.), who takes a lucid trip through the country's brain labs.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Mind Wide Open: Your Brain an...

The Guardian

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Mind Wide Open: One Man's Journey into the Workings of His Brain by Steven Johnson 274pp, Allen Lane, £17.99 The final frontier lies not in outer space but inside your skull.

May 15 2004 | Read Full Review of Mind Wide Open: Your Brain an...

Publishers Weekly

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His advocacy of ""R-directed thinking"" begins with a bit of neuroscience tourism to a brain lab that will be extremely familiar to those who read Steven Johnson's Mind Wide Open last year, but while Johnson was fascinated by the brain's internal processes, Pink is more concerned with how certain...

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Publishers Weekly

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But the amygdala, the brain's source of "gut feelings," returns in the following chapter as important in encoding fearful memories, a connection that helps explain why fearful or traumatic memories are so much more tenacious and detailed than emotionally neutral ones.

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People who end up addicted to drugs are probably predisposed because of something natural which is lacking within their specific brain and its receptors.

Jan 29 2011 | Read Full Review of Mind Wide Open: Your Brain an...

Bookmarks Magazine

Julia Keller St. Petersburg Times 3.5 of 5 Stars "His book, subtitled Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life, is a chronicle, written in plain English, of his efforts to explore the quirks and the craftiness of the working brain.

Oct 29 2009 | Read Full Review of Mind Wide Open: Your Brain an...

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