Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience” as Want to Read:
Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  594 ratings  ·  84 reviews

With extensive video footage of his trailblazing cognitive experiments, Michael Gazzanigathe father of cognitive neuroscienceilluminates the discoveries behind his groundbreaking work in this enhanced digital edition of Tales from Both Sides of the Brain.

Michael S. Gazzaniga, one of the most important neuroscientists of the twentieth century, gives us an exciting

Hardcover, 448 pages
Published February 3rd 2015 by Ecco (first published February 1st 2015)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Tales from Both Sides of the Brain, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Tales from Both Sides of the Brain

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  594 ratings  ·  84 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience
Always Pouting
Though it's well written it was hard to force myself to finish reading it. I wanted more information about his research and I wouldn't have minded the personal accounts if they some how worked into it. Rather than using personal experiences to explain how his thinking was effected and how it changed the way he did research, the author just seems to name drop. Like I don't care that you were talking to Richard Feynman while at cal tech or that the research participants was a good guy when it ...more
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, overdrive
I attended some lectures by this author when I was in college. His ability to convey information in a coherent and entertaining way was impressive. This book brought me back to my study of psychobiology in college and graduate school. I remembered reading about a lot of the research described, but I'm not sure how useful the brief descriptions (or the constant scientist name dropping) would be to people unfamiliar with the subject matter. The book also reminded me of how unbelievably cruel the ...more
Nazbanou Nozari
Jul 27, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is certainly much more about Michael Gazzaniga than science, and can be considered sort of a celebrity book in the science world. While there is some science in there, it is not very detailed and not always necessarily very accurate. However, the book is not without merit. In fact, it is an intriguing portrayal of the profiles of success in academia, and the different ways they can arise. This is apparent throughout the book in the parallel story of the author and his mentor, the ...more
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio, 2015-reads
Gazzaniga is a wealthy man. Not just a comparatively fortunate academic and cognitive scientist - a rich man. And so what? He's apparently great at fundraising and gaining endowments and never burning bridges and ... it's not important. But I learned far more about his real estate investments, financial interests, and his friendship with William F. Buckley than I could ever care about or want to know. His depictions of split-brain research were interesting, but this was too much of an artless ...more
Jana Light
More research autobiography than neuroscience. Gazzaniga certainly had a fascinating and successful career and I did learn some about how the two hemispheres of the human brain work and do/do not communicate. Another reviewer said he was a little too "starstruck" when describing his colleagues, and I am torn on this point. On one hand, it was a little grating to hear that yet ANOTHER person he worked with was "brilliant, passionate about science, and kind." On the other, it was so nice to read ...more
Jenni V.
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
I spent so much time reading this and am relieved it's over so I don't want to spend a lot of time reviewing it.

I didn't one-star it because there were moments of high interest but overall, it was very very dry. And it's not a lack of intelligence or interest on my part; it's more of a "what's the purpose of this book?" kind of thing. If the only ones to enjoy/understand it are the ones who lived it, why write it?

This book isn't the first time I've heard about how these discoveries couldn't
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
I picked this up because I thought it would be an interesting read that I could potentially assign to students--I'm not well-versed in hemispheric lateralization beyond the most well-known experiments, and I thought it would be a nice window into the process of science. It is not. At first I attributed the what seemed like sensationalized stories of cavorting with all these big names in science and politics and Hollywood as a generational difference, but over time I realized that this is a story ...more
Steven Felicelli
Sep 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
got as far as his bewailing the lack of conservative voices in the science community - note to pop science authors: we don't give a flying fuck about your personal life, ideology, writing style, anecdotal flare, etc., just break down the phenomena for us, thanks
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-own
I'm finally done with this book. I thought it would never end. I honestly thought it would be a whole lot more scientific and less biographical.
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
The elitism in this book is palpable. If that is a deal breaker for you, then this book won't be your cup of tea, as it only gets worse in the later chapters. For my own reading pleasure, I chose to simply take it in an see it as a gift. In the end Gazzaniga did little to hide the power of being well connected. He didn't even hide how blatant the exclusion was in his field. As a result, I felt this book conveyed what it's really like in academic institutions. If he had glossed over the elitism, ...more
K.A. Ashcomb
Sep 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
Finally, a new book review. I have been swamped with publishing, writing, and marketing. To the book. I was so excited to get this book, having an opportunity to see/read about the life of a neuroscientist. But this is the first time I have to say I hate a book. It is a sad moment in my life, and I'm not proud of my reaction. Maybe while I write my review, I have a more positive view.

This book is snobbish, elitist, and constantly name dropping and describing the perks of being and coming from a
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a summary of Gazzaniga's research. It's a sketchy autobiography of his life as a researcher. I'd give it a solid 3.5 stars, but had to round up to a 4 star rating.
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly insightful book that delightfully spotlights scientists desire to pursue knowledge and the spirit of experimenting. The many characters are beautifully portrayed.
Carl Stevens
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Novelists need to know how the brain works even when it doesn't.
Nathan Albright
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: challenge-2019
Although I have sometimes been critical about the author's approach in terms of neuroscience and his lack of awareness about the disconnect that exists between his appreciation of design elements to the human mind and brains in general and his formal adoption of a misguided evolutionary framework to science, this book manages to avoid most of what I find problematic about his unwillingness to follow the evidence where it leads.  Instead, this book is a very enjoyable memoir of the author's life ...more
Alina Yasnaya
Dec 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
When I picked up this book, I was so excited. What an idiot i was. I thought it would present a gripping picture of what the brain does when the corpus callosum is cut. What I got instead were stories about the author's past, personal anecdotes, narratives about his interactions with various people over the years, peppered sparingly with the information about the actual tales from the sides of the brain. I am profoundly disappointed with this book.
Aug 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Something I learned:

People with a split brain (where the corpus callosum - the "bridge" between the two lobes of the brain - is cut) can "cue" one side or the other to accomplish a task. For instance, a command to make a hitchhiker hand sign, made first by the right hand (controlled by the left, or verbal, side of the brain) can be copied afterwards by the left hand. The left side (which has heard the command) does it correctly and the right side, which is visual and not verbal, sees it and
John Gurney
Nov 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This autobiography from the discoverer of the hemispheric brain"split mind" is very readable. I lack technical knowledge, yet, was able to follow along to the audio book. Gazzaniga must have been exciting and interesting in person, based on his writing. He was intellectually curious and enjoyed thinking about completely different areas. A Republican, he lived for intellectual discussion, not only among scientists but with his other friends. He writes of his close, 50-year friendship with the ...more
Leo Walsh
Jun 21, 2016 rated it liked it
A decent, if overly self-laudatory autobiography written by the notable cognitive scientist Michael Gazzaniga. Most of the book is a tale of his research, focusing on work with split-brain patients, from the 8,000 foot level. But the most interesting parts for me was his personal asides.

For instance, in 2016, I am accustomed to all notable academics and intellectuals being, in the main, progressives. For me, the term "Conservative" means "I distrust global warming, evolution and I hate gays."
Sarah Novak
This is a memoir describing an incredibly successful career in academic neuroscience. In general, I like hearing stories of how certain ideas originated and the people behind the work, but I don't particularly recommend this book. Gazzaniga's story can be frustrating in how overloaded it is with small stories of collaborators and famous friends. I tried to remind myself that he wasn't just name-dropping -- giving credit to collaborators is a good thing, and anyone would tell anecdotes about ...more
Mar 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Have you ever had a professor who loves to talk about the good old days? If so, this book will feel familiar to you. I picked it up because I was hoping to actually learn something about split brain research. Instead, I can tell you now about all the places the author has lived and where his wife is from. I can also tell you about the death of one of his close friends and about how he served the Bush administration on an ethics panel. I cannot, however, tell you anything about split brain ...more
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Michael Gazzaniga is one my favorite cognitive scientists. HIs work on split brains is simply awesome.
But this book is a compilation of his life in science and the excitement of his discoveries and his work and how it intertwined with his life - going back and forth between New England and Dartmouth and CA and the University system. Amazing the people and scientists that were working together at the time doing amazing things and finding out more and more how the brain works - and doesn't. His
Aug 05, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
This may be for people that already have a knowledge base regarding neuroscientists. Not neuroscience, but neuroscientists. Like, if you had grad school science program trading cards of some sort this is probably for you. The relationship between the hemispheres of the brain is something I was hoping to learn about, but this doesnt really seem to be the book for that. (Suggestions welcome) I couldnt get past the name dropping and anecdotes unrelated to the content the title and description seem ...more
Troy Blackford
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A science autobiography, the work on split brain patients that has typified Gazzaniga's career is told in context of the man's professional and personal life. I always like these science autobiographies, and you should be able to tell what you're getting into from the subtitle. An accomplished and interesting man, with a unique life. Worth a read.
This was a bit painful to finish - I didn't give up on it but it was tough to get through. I first thought it would be a delightful dive into the philosophical challenges of the split brain patients. However, I soon realized that it was a relatively tedious memoir. Had I been related to Gazzaniga or personally connected to him in any way, I think I would have appreciated this walk down memory lane - but being an outsider, it soon became a meandering tale of names and games... the thoughts of ...more
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not always an easy read for the non-scientist, but is such an interesting challenge that almost anyone will be compelled along. The reader will learn how the two hemispheres of the brain work together, and how they work when they have been surgically separated in treatment of severe epilepsy.It is a look-in, too, at how a research lab works, how the scientists choose and work up their experiments, and how they work together. Gazzaniga's studies will intrigue the reader into trying , for ...more
Kathryn Davidson
Mar 18, 2019 rated it liked it
After repeated technical difficulties with the audio book from the library, switched to the hard cover copy, which turned out to be easier for me to follow given the extended quotes from others. I had expected this book to be more about the science and less about the life of the author. The science part of the book was interesting, although the author writes as if "being of two minds" is something no one has ever heard of. The life part of the book read as if one has to be one of the popular ...more
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Well, I started reading...and then I stopped reading. On page 37. So it's a little inaccurate to say I "read" it but I'm definitely no longer "currently reading" it. It was partly the voice that turned me offthat of a blowhard who's way too into himself trying to shield it behind a very self-conscious posture of self deprecation. But I figured I was in it for the science so, keep going. And then he explained that he's a long time close friend of William F. Buckley, Jr. And, well, I can't. I just ...more
Marcin Milkowski
Apr 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Granted, this book talks a lot of the scientific career of the author, but given that this is an autobiography, this is to be expected. While there was some mention of politics in the book, I didn't find it really advocating a lot for libertarian politics; there were mentions of friendship with Buckley or some conservative leanings of the author in the 1960s but that's basically all there was. The book is mostly a series of not really witty anecdotes and a lot of stuff on split-brain research, ...more
May 11, 2019 rated it liked it
His work is fascinating, and his career has been illustrious, but I was hoping this memoir would include more details of his research than it actually does. Although it is of some interest, I really didn't care where he lived, who he had lunch with, etc., and became rather bored by all the names listed. The research and his musings on theory of mind were more what I was after. I have read the Bisected Brain a couple of times, his seminal work on split-brain observations in humans, and it is ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Brain Science Pod...: BSP 117: Michael Gazzaniga 4 24 Apr 06, 2015 04:58AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts
  • The Strange Order of Things: Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures
  • The Accidental Mind: How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God
  • From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds
  • The Bible: A Biography
  • Innate: How the Wiring of Our Brains Shapes Who We Are
  • Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind
  • Napoleon's Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History
  • Experience Required: How to become a  UX leader regardless of your role
  • Dear Heart, I Hate You
  • Reading in the Brain: The Science and Evolution of a Human Invention
  • In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind
  • The Other Side
  • The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force
  • Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society
  • The Origin
  • Eats, Shoots and Leaves: 2007 Calendar
  • On Natural Selection
See similar books…
Michael S. Gazzaniga, one of the premiere doctors of neuroscience, was born on December 12, 1939 in Los Angeles. Educated at Dartmouth College and California Institute of Technology, he is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he heads the new SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind.

His early research examined the subject of epileptics who had undergone

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our lis...
38 likes · 9 comments
“Science results from a profoundly social process. The common portrayal—that science emerges from a solitary isolated genius, always laboring alone, not owing anything to anyone—is simply wrong.” 12 likes
“the study of psychophysics proves that it is impossible to bore a German.” Thankfully,” 7 likes
More quotes…