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The Body Has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps in Your Brain Help You Do (Almost) Everything Better

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  658 ratings  ·  69 reviews
In this compelling, cutting-edge book, two generations of science writers explore the exciting science of “body maps” in the brain–and how startling new discoveries about the mind-body connection can change and improve our lives. Why do you still feel fat after losing weight? What makes video games so addictive? How can “practicing” your favorite sport in your imagination ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 11th 2007 by Random House
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3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  658 ratings  ·  69 reviews

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Apr 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
FAAAASCINATING. Honestly, I kept pestering Kent, "Listen to this..." and then reading a paragraph or two. It's about the science of how the brain and body connect. We have "body maps" in our brain, that tell us exactly where our body parts are, and how they are doing. (This is why we can touch our nose with our eyes closed.) It doesn't sound interesting, until you read what this means, in practical applications. And the stuff about how our homonulcus (body maps) go awry is just astonishing.

John Martindale
Yet another science writer claiming the self and freewill are illusions. Normally when I hear this kind of thing, it sounds rather self-defeating. Just how much truth value does information contain when it is coming from an author who is merely an illusory automaton? If what she compulsively wrote accidentally happens to corresponds with reality, how unfortunate, for the illusion that is me has no choice but to think it is bunk.
Fortunately, she, unlike others, did eventually define what she me
Martha Love
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Body Has a Mind of It’s Own is a fascinating, easy read, particularly if you are interested in brain research. Sandra and Matthew Blakeslee explain in detail body mapping, and how we obtain our body image and why it is difficult to change it. I particularly found important and accessible their explanations of the feedback system of the lower and higher regions of the Cortex. Interestingly, as many as 10 times more fibers carry information processed by the higher area of the Cortex down to th ...more
Dec 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
For some reason I found this book extremely fascinating. I listened to the audio book twice, then I got the print version. It explains how your brain perceives your own body, how that process is somewhat distorted, and how problems with body maps and body perception can affect our lives. Despite how that might sound, it's not a psychological treatise about how we should all love our bodies and somehow find a better body image through self acceptance. The book is scientifically oriented. I really ...more
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
getting a bit dated now
Dec 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-movement
I read several comments about this book before I bought it, and those were mainly in the context of dance and movement science.

You could easily go two ways with a neuroscience book like this. You could read it purely for the information and interest factor, which would be fine. It would be a nice, joyous, easy read, and you'd learn a whole lot of things that you would soon forget. You would probably also not talk to many people about it because it's a weird sort of topic.

Or, if you're like me, y
Mar 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: work
I bought this at a craniosacral therapy class I went to a few months ago. I gave it five stars partly because the subject is fascinating to me because of being a PT, but I think anyone who wants to know how their brain works would find it really fascinating as well.

My absolutely favorite chapter was ch. 10, which was about the brain maps of the internal organs, which are found in a part of the brain called the insula. It talks about how people with good interoception (the ability to read and int
Nov 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating stuff. I have fibromyalgia, where the brain registers exaggerated pain that shouldn't be happening. It turns into this agonizing, endless feedback loop between the brain and the areas of the body in pain. Interrupting that loop is the key and so far, they haven't found a reliable, effective way to do that. I'm certainly no doctor, but for awhile I've been thinking that this particular area of brain science may very well be the direction that may lead to some help with this maddening ...more
Jan 05, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cera by: Trip
This was a good overview of what is currently known about the way that the brain understands and tracks the body through a variety of maps -- and how, when the body or the brain is damaged, odd things can result due to the disconnection between the maps & reality. I was particularly fascinated with some indications that anorexia is correlated with a body mapping problem that's detectable through a simple experiment, which makes me wonder if you could detect people who are at risk for develop ...more
Aug 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This is my second read-through of this book, which I discovered while studying material on neuroplasticity in people who've had brain injury or deficiency and recovered most of their faculties through specific retraining of the brain by neuroscientists. The focus of this book, however, is devoted to how the brain judges our body-sense. By that I mean, how does the mind suddenly go from just judging the motions of your body to including the motion and direction of tools as part of the "self", suc ...more
Jul 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Great book for those who are interested in science but don't want to deal with all the jargon. I usually only read fiction, so you know a book is good when non-fiction can hold my attention. This book is filled with fascinating case studies and facts about ways the body and mind are connected not only within oneself but even the peripheral space around us! I can't say I will be a better runner or be able to "almost anything better" from reading this book, but I definitely understand it more and ...more
Dec 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: aspiring neurosurgeons
i love reading books about the brain. this is the first book that ive read that has been able to marry neurons to action and make sense of the purely chemical reactions that make us alive. its missing a star because the authors missed a vital connection with the concept of bodymaps to spirituality and annoyingly chalked up belief to something less than nothing. that aside, totally facinating and now im more hyperaware of my personal space and senses than ever before (for better or worse.)
Oct 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book. Provides a nice perspective of the whole body, the interactions between mind and body, and some useful information about the organization of the human brain.
Bernie Gourley
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those interested in movement and the body.
This book examines the role of the nervous system in movement and bodily activity. It describes how one’s body is able to perform extraordinarily complex maneuvers that we often take for granted because they feel effortless. It investigates some of the ways in which the interface between body and brain go awry, as well as the various effects this can have. It also offers insight into how we can be deceived because we are experiencing the world less directly and more through the shaping activitie ...more
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really in depth review of how to human bodys mind maps, proprioception, and sensation and perception can affect us in ways we generally overlook. Almost all of this was review for me, but I appreciated how scientific and well explained it was! Sandra Blakeslee walks you through the more complicated subjects with clear and cogent explanations. This is a book i want to give all of my personal training clients so they understand how practice, visualization, and building a neuromuscular foundation, ...more
Anna Gunn
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating read about how our mind reads our external space - how pain is manifested and some interesting experiments that have been carried out to show these fascinating brain abilities.
Cynthia Worby
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing mind blowing

This book opens up worlds of information about our brain, body, mind interconnections and the way we interact with ourselves and the world around us!
Dec 23, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this book on the recommendation of an acquaintance. It was mildly interesting.

Recommended only if you're really, really bored.
Elliott Bignell
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Blakeslees have produced a wonderful piece of popular science writing. Fascinating, clearly written and up-to-date, it eschews the more impenetrable specialist details of the neurologists' trade without speaking down to the reader or oversimplifying. I found it a dazzling follow-up read to Damasio's "Descartes Error", since whose publication so much new science has emerged.

What that science has found is maps. Lots and lots of maps. They are referred to repeatedly as homunculi, but the book m
Bob Nichols
Sep 08, 2012 rated it liked it
This is an unusual book. It's largely boring but with many gold nuggets tucked inside. Cognition, value and body are tied together. "Meaning," the authors say, is rooted in agency (acting and choosing) and agency "depends on embodiment." Feedback from bodily movements provide meaning that become "maps" within. We talk about muscle memory but memory is lodged in the brain as motor maps. Perception is active. It is predictive and we fill in the gaps with what we have learned before. People do have ...more
Sep 28, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, brain
This is based upon the audio download from [].

Narrated by: Kate Reading

It was an decent book and while I did find it interesting as I listened to it, there were only a couple of things that really stood out in terms of recall. As the title says, it’s about how your brain maps your body and brain flexibility.

What I recall most is a condition called the “yips” and that reflexology seems to provide a truly effective connection to the brain.

Yips is a movement disorder that is associ
Nov 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bio-sci-pop
in the afterwards, the authors apologize to the researchers for glossing over any details of their work for this presentation to a general audience. i think they should have apologized to the reader for presenting such obviously diluted reporting. it's an extremely interesting topic but so horrible presented in this book. the authors should have assumed that their reader knew nothing of the subject, but were intelligent. good science writing needs to explain the research, not reduce it, for the ...more
Nov 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
This book is better than I expected. There is a lot of news about body maps so I thought it might just be a rehash of the mainstream knowledge. And in fact, the first half is basically just that. Our brain has physical locations of nerves on the outside of the Cortex that map directly to specific locations of the body, creating a sophisticated map called a Homunculus. The author does a nice job of outlining the research that led up to these findings and how the brain functions with these maps. S ...more
Apr 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting book. I learned about brain function that I was unaware of previously, mostly the "Body Maps" in the sub-title. The discussion of how the two body maps (one for tracking the space we can reach and another for moving are different body parts in that space) work and the, sometimes mystifying, cases of when they fail to work correctly is illuminating. Under the heading of failures phenomena from the yipps to anorexia are covered. Also, the ruminations on where does consc ...more
Tom Bentley
Jun 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
For people like me that are interested in the physiological and psychological underpinnings of the brain, this one is brainy. Fascinating work with internal and external body mappings (and you'll never think of your own homunculus in quite the same way). Lots of explanations of the mechanisms of such oddities as phantom limb, body dysmorphic disorder and the power of the body/brain's interest in homeostasis (essentially, balance in bodily functions, and of course, there's a mind component as wel ...more
May 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
Not super impressed with this book. This book has a lot of good information how the brain maps our body and how our body reacts to the map. But chapter after chapter of research studies to emphasize the same point and to stretch this concept into other applications gets a bit boring after a bit. This books couldn't hold my interest for long. And then I will leave you with this book's climax...Spoiler alert....brain maps every inch of our body into brain maps!
Jan 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a breezy, popular account of a good deal of brain research. The authors' basic take is that we create 'maps' of reality, our bodies, our experiences, and so on, and use those to navigate the often treacherous waters of everyday life. Some of the brain research is quite old, and the authors push the idea of maps too far -- beyond what they really can explain -- but overall this is an excellent, quick way to get up to speed on the modern research.
Nov 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, audio
I listened to this as an audiobook. It started out a bit slow, and to be honest, it could probably have been a bit shorter. But by the end of the book, I had learned some really interesting things about the interactions between our brain and body. It described a lot of interesting disorders caused by flawed body maps in the brain, and interesting stuff on phantom limbs, biofeedback to manage pain, and using mental imagery to improve performance. All in all, a worthwhile read.
Mar 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: any interested in neurological science
Recommended to Cynthia by: this is a library book
A little sciency, and would have been easier to read if I was more knowledgeable of the geography of the human brain. Fascinating though, especially since I did not realize how integrated all the parts of the brain are, and how they interconnect to give feedback regarding our place in time and space. I was interested to read about the plasticity of the brain and that neurons or connections do continue to grow and develop in response to new and challenging situations, even as we age.
Sep 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
as someone with no neuroscience vocabulary, i found the tone of this to be great: informative, humorous, and not overwhelmingly technical. since i have a deep interest in how emotional, mental, and physical systems are integrated, i found this fascinating and awesome. all kinds of interesting trivia but doesn't neglect the how-does-it-all-fit-together bigger questions. touches on everything from sports to video games to dance to meditation to creativity. highly recommended pop science.
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“The illusion of the self isn’t that there is no such thing as you. Nor does the illusion of free will mean that you cannot make choices. Instead, the illusion is that the self and free will are not really what they seem to be from your, the “end user’s,” perspective. The illusion of free will is that free will has infinite scope, rather than being a flexible set of feedback loops between higher-order body maps and emotional and memory-storage systems in the brain. The illusion of the self is that self is a kernel, rather than a distributed, emergent system.” 1 likes
“Language can often seem abstract and transcendent of the body, the world, and even time itself. But language is more closely tied to your body mandala than you may realize, especially where its acquisition during childhood is concerned. If you read the verb “lick,” your tongue area will light up. If you hear someone say “kick,” it activates your leg areas. Christian Keysers, a mirror neuron researcher at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands, says that mirror neurons may very well be a key precursor to abstract thought and language. For example, he explains, you use the word “break” as a verb as in “I see you break the peanut, I hear you break the peanut, and I break the peanut.” The constant is the mental simulation of breaking even though the context varies in each case. So your body is the foundational source of meaning—not just of words and actions but even the meanings of things you learn about through your eyes, ears, and bodily experience.” 1 likes
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