Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life
Using a mix of experiential reportage, personal storytelling, and fresh scientific discovery, Steven Johnson describes how the brain works — its...more
It feels like Steven Berlin Johnson set out on a quest to understand his own mind, kept a diary about it, and decided to publish it when he reached a conclusion. He doesn't delve too deeply into either the science or the anecdotes, and I lost his train of thought several times. It's a neat exploration, but a bit too self-indulgent to be a really compelling story for a r...more
That said, this is solid o...more
Here's the good news: we can read minds. Our brains can read subtle clues in facial expressions, body language and voice intonations. This happens in the subconscious, below our radar (or, outside of the "Executive Branch," as Johnson calls the conscious mind). Pretty cool.
We also are high on drugs...more
What would you learn if you "could see what your brain looked like when it was remembering a long-forgotten childhood experience, or listening to a song, or conceiving a good idea?" The answer: a lot, but we still have much to discover about the complicated circuits run by experience, memory, emotion, and brain chemistry. This topic could have scared away non-scientists, but Johnson (a non-scientist) explains technical terms clearly and enthusiastically, using personal examples to illustrate key...more
If you haven't read much about neuroscience's leaps in research on the brain over the past couple of decades and the evidence drawn from that research that forcefully makes the case that our brains are plastic organisms, this is an easy-to-read introduction. Sometimes I thought Johnson was superficial. In a fascinating chapter on face and affect recognition, he introduces Simon Baron-Cohen as an authoritive expert without barely a mention of the controversy stirred up by the psychologist's 'male...more
He closes with a section about Freud, and how neuroscience, while showing the need to update or alter some of Freud's theories about psychoanalysis, does not totally replace them. John...more
I enjoyed reading most of this book and learned a few things I didn't know about the brain and topics such as the fight or flight response, biofeed back, being in "the zone", and how hormones affect behavior. This book is mostly written for a lay audience, but there were occasional complicated science words thrown in to remind us that the topic was supposed to be hard. The metaphors and examples that the author used to explain some of the complex topics were useful, but on the other han...more
The chapter on attention was a tiny bit dull f...more
The book starts out well and the author treats some neuro scientific topics very well e.g neurofeedback and laughter. The later chapters aren't as strong. In the chapter 'Scan Thyself' the author seems to support the 10% myth of brain utilisation and the final eponymous chapter tries to reconcile psychoanalytic theory with biology and doesn't do a great job.
I found myself repeatedly congratulating myself that I was not vulnerable to accepting some of the half baked. conjectures
For a first book on neuroscience, this is excellent. For a third or fourth book, this offers very few insights.
The epilogue launches into an explanation of Freudian psychology that is slow at becoming relevant. It does ultimately tie up the book well, but the sudden jolt was surprising.
Listen to Mind Wide Open on your smartphone, notebook or desktop computer.
The first few chapters are the strongest, as they document his experiments on himself...more
Steven Johnson is the author of the bestsellers Where Good Ideas Come From, 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—most recently, outside.in—and writes for Time, Wi...more