Summer 2018 Brainy Reading List


Summer is finally here! In celebration, we’ve put together a list of seven brainy books, authored by members of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives (DABI) or prominent neuroscientists, for you to grab on your way to enjoy the warm weather and sunshine:

The Consciousness Instinct: Unraveling the Mystery of How the Brain Makes the Mind by DABI member Michael S. Gazzaniga, Ph.D., Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The Consciousness Instinct is a fun and informative read about a topic that is often written about in ways that are either boring or incomprehensible. Gazzaniga was one of the first scientists in modern times to dare talk about consciousness. He’s been at it for five decades, and keeps coming up with new and interesting ideas. Your consciousness will be raised.
― DABI member Joseph E. LeDoux, Ph.D., New York University

Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain by DABI member Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, Ph.D., Doubleday

I remember devouring every single book by Judy Blume as a teen, as well as The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole and A Teenage Health Freak… Now, as the mother of a teen and a pre-teen, I find myself equally hungry for information but from the other side. The teen brain is scientist Blakemore’s specialist subject and her research is celebratory, rather than fearful, of adolescence in all its messy glory. Her new book is a must not only for curious parents but for anyone interested in psychology, creativity, and the developing mind.
― Laura Bailey,

Chasing Men on Fire: The Story of the Search for a Pain Gene by DABI member Stephen Waxman, M.D., Ph.D., MIT Press

Waxman, who works in basic research and clinical medicine, offers an insider’s account of the global search for a pain gene, beginning in 1966. He intertwines descriptions of cross-disciplinary neuroscience with portraits of scientists, and the struggles of people with conditions such as erythromelalgia, or ‘man-on-fire syndrome’, characterized by burning pain in hands and feet. Structurally, the book is innovative: 11 research papers are interlaced with the stories behind them. It is thus both a boon for researchers and an engrossing read for nonspecialists.
― Tor Wager,

(See also: Waxman’s Dana Foundation Cerebrum article, adapted from a chapter in the book, and Cerebrum podcast interview)

The Healing Self: A Revolutionary New Plan to Supercharge Your Immunity and Stay Well for Life by DABI member Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., and Deepak Chopra, M.D., Harmony Books

Deepak Chopra and Rudy Tanzi once again effectively harness their scientific training and passionate commitment to advancing well-being in this accessible, life-changing compendium of cutting-edge tools that will extend your health span and improve your sense of meaning, connection, and flourishing.  As inspiring as it is informative, The Healing Self shows us how to use our minds to open our awareness and create daily routines to improve our physical and mental health. Bravo to our guides and to you for taking these practical steps toward healing in your life!
― Daniel J. Siegel, MD, Clinical Professor, UCLA School of Medicine

The Strange Order of Things: Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures by DABI member Antonio Damasio, M.D., Ph.D., Pantheon Books

In attempts to define what makes us uniquely human, emotions and feelings are often marginalized. These deeply ingrained, often irrational aspects of our behaviour seem destined to be the poor cousins of the rational cognitive functions that enable the formulation of mathematical theorems or operatic scores. In his bold and important book The Strange Order of Things, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio argues that in underestimating the contributions of such ‘lower-level’ brain phenomena to ‘higher-level’ cognitive functions, science might have been missing out on some important biology. Similarly, neuroscience’s emphasis on the origins of language as a shaper of culture might have eclipsed the role of feelings.
― Adrian Woolfson,

Beyond the Self: Conversations between Buddhism and Neuroscience by European Dana Alliance Executive Committee Member Wolf Singer, M.D., Ph.D., and Matthieu Ricard, MIT Press.

Their book is an edited set of conversations Ricard and Singer had over the course of eight years at meetings around the world. This format offers an insight into how these two scholars have, with humor and skepticism, sought to find common ground between the third-person attempt of Western science to understand mental processes objectively, and the first-person introspective approach used over the last two millennia by Tibetan Buddhists. The reader is allowed to eavesdrop as the authors discuss fundamental issues in neuroscience—the nature of consciousness, how emotions are processed in the brain, and how practice changes mental processes—in an engaging and free-flowing way.
― Paul J. Zak,

Cerebrum: Emerging Ideas in Brain Science 2018, edited by Bill Glovin, Dana Press

If you had to choose just one book ever year to keep you informed about recent advances in brain science, you couldn’t make a better choice than Cerebrum. This annual compendium is penned by some of the most accomplished neuroscientists in the world, writing with clarity, authority, and vast experience. The goal is to familiarize the non-specialist reader with the wonders of the human brain. Read any article selected at random, and you will agree that this year’s edition accomplishes this goal with marvelous precision.
― DABI member Richard Restak, M.D., Clinical Professor of Neurology at George Washington Hospital University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and author of 24 books on the brain

(See also: our blog post on the new Cerebrum anthology, written by the editor.)

– Ali Chunovic

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