Friday, August 19, 2011

This is Your Brain on Books: Books about the brain

I felt like it was time for another booklist-- these days I've been reading Brain Rules by John Medina. This book makes some sense of the human brain-- how it evolved, how it works, and what it needs to work-- and then he turns it into 12 rules that he calls (can you guess?) Brain Rules, which you can then keep in mind in order to make your life a little simpler and your brain a little happier.  I had started reading this a while back, but had to put it back down again because of school. I picked it back up because I remember the feeling of awe that I had in considering the lump of cells in my cranium. 

He touches on some of the topics I tend to think about on a daily basis (such as Getting 4 hours of sleep isn't really so bad, right?, or Okay, Hayley. Focus, there's a task at hand... ooh look, Glee is going to be on for TWO hours tonight, let's just watch a short preview...Wait what was I doing?). His rules discuss everything from short and long term memory to how male and female brains differ, and it's accessible. No highfalutin jibberjabber here! [*Is it ironic that those words sound like what they mean?]

So-- by reading this book, I noticed myself noticing other books about the brain, and thus this booklist was spawned.

General Brain Books 

  • Brain Rules: 12 rules principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school by John Medina
    • This book is also awesome because it has an online component. All of his brain rules are   online so you can peruse them now if you want to, and he has little power points for each one. Don't worry, he knows that brains don't pay attention to boring things, so they are short and interesting too! 
  • Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina
    • The second child to Medina's Brain Rules, this book exposes how children's minds develop in the first place, what parents can do to grow the best baby brains, as well as helping people get into the mind of a baby (you might think not much is going on up there, but I think you'd be wrong).
  • Memories Are Made of This: how memory works in humans and animals by Rusiko Bourtchouladze 
  • Incognito: the secret lives of the brain by David M. Eagleman   
  • An Alchemy of Mind: the marvel and mystery of the brain by Diane Ackerman  
  • The Brain that Changes: stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science by Norman Doidge  
    • Focuses on the plasticity of the brain and the brain can heal itself. 
  • Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot by Richard Restak
    Sex on the Brain: 
    • Sex on the Brain: biological differences between men and women by Deborah Blum
      • Reviews on Amazon say that this book discusses a delicate issue with a dose of humor, with the author offering personal anecdote to slice the tension, while being simultaneously scientific.
    • The Essential Difference: the truth about the male and female brain by Simon Baron-Cohen
    • Sex on the Brain: 12 lessons to enhance your love life by Daniel G. Amen
      • From the same author as Change Your Brain, Change Your Life and The Brain in Love (curiously, with the same subtitle: 12 lessons to enhance your love life), this goes into how sex affects the brain (it likes it, btw), and discusses attraction in the human brain.
    Music and the Brain:

    • Musicophilia: tales of music and the brain by Oliver Sacks
      • Oliver Sacks is a well-known psychologist (see The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales and Awakenings, later a movie starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro)-- I'm listening to this on audiobook. A collection of studies of people who are deeply affected by music, how music helps cure some mental illnesses.  The first describes how a man struck by lightning suddenly gets the obsessive urge to play the piano. 
    • This is Your Brain on Music: the science of a human obsession by Daniel J. Levitin
    • The World in Six Songs: how the musical brain created human nature by Daniel J. Levitin
    Economics of the Brain: 
    • The Mind of the Market: compassionate apes, competitive humans, and other tales from evolutionary economics by Michael Shermer
      • What do brain scans reveal about economics?
    • Blink: the power of thinking without thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
      • Gladwell describes what goes on in our minds when we make split-section decisions, and reveals how advertisers use this in marketing
    • How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer 
      • Delves into the science of decision-making and how decision-making exists in the brain


    1. Ooh, another to add to the list:

      Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference -- Cordelia Fine

    2. I must add "The Female Brain," by Louann Brizendine, "Sex, sleep, eat, drink, dream," by Jennifer Ackerman, and "Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior," by Rom Brafman.

    3. Ooh, I love the additions-- thanks ladies!