Giedra's Reviews > Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life

Mind Wide Open by Steven Johnson
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Jun 03, 08

really liked it

I really liked this book. Each chapter focused on a different aspect of the mind. For example, one chapter discussed our ability to "mindread" other people, referring to how we can read subtle cues about a person's mood, whether they are lying, etc. from their facial expressions, tone, etc. and we have no idea we can even do this. He points out that we DO usually sense that we enjoy conversing with some people more than others even when the content of hte conversations is largely the same, and posits that this may often be because you "click" with someone in terms of being able to optimally mindread one another. Another chapter provided insights into ADD/ADHD and how what we call "attention" is really more than 1 skill (there is auditory attention, visual attention, then the ability to switch back and forth or decide which external stimuli to ignore, etc.) Talked about using a neurofeedback machine that reads brainwaves to train kids to be more attentive--the system uses a video game in which successful movement of your "guy" only happens when you are focused in a particular way. ADHD kids using the system report that now they understand what it's supposed to feel like when they are reading.

Many interesting things to ponder. I will enjoy rereading it as well, as you can easily take what you learn from this book and recognize that certain things going on in your own life are attributable to this or that neurotransmitter/attention skill/mindreading ability or lack thereof. Then realizing these things, you might be able to train yourself to overcome certain deficiences or to do things to compensate.

My only complaint was that the last chapter got all Freud-talkie and was nearly as impenetrable as Freud(trying to explain what things from Freud are still worthy of being part of our lexicon and which things just have to be completely tossed based on what we know from brain science). Just plain dull after all the interesting reading that came before.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Audra (new)

Audra Oh goody, I'm glad you liked it. It's sitting on my to-read shelf at home (I think other patrons of Mansfield must hate me because I'm such a book-hoarder). Everything Bad was a quick, stimulating read as well, and his London epidemic book looks good too. Just heard him give a TED talk (have you heard these yet?) about London that was pretty interesting. Those have been keeping my mind busy at work.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh, I loathe Freud so thanks for this warning. Maybe I will just read the first part.


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