National Book Lovers Day

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Enjoy your copy of Cerebrum poolside. Available for purchase on Amazon.

Maybe it’s from years of school-encouraged summer reading lists, but this season always ignites a desire in me to read more books and to ask friends for recommendations. And it just so happens that August celebrates National Book Lovers Day–today! For fellow book lovers, and particularly those who want to learn more about the brain, I can point to some Dana Foundation resources that offer suggestions.

Cerebrum, our monthly online journal of timely ideas in neuroscience, has an accompanying podcast and a yearly printed anthology, but did you know it also publishes quarterly book reviews? Recently reviewed books include Howard I. Kushner’s On the Other Hand: Left Hand, Right Brain, Mental Disorder, and History, Matthieu Ricard and‎ Wolf Singer’s Beyond the Self: Conversations between Buddhism and Neuroscience, and Alan Alda’s If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating. All reviews are written by neuroscientists with an understanding of the chosen topic.

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Summer 2018 Brainy Reading List

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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

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Brainy Reads for Summer 2016

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Need a book to take with you on your summer vacation? We have six brainy suggestions, all written by members of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives (DABI) or prominent neuroscientists, that are perfect for a sunny day:

The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults, by DABI member Frances E. Jensen, M.D., HarperCollins

“Jensen provides her sound scientific expertise and presents experimental brain data, as well as her firsthand practice of parenting through vignettes about her sons’ sometimes questionable behavior—hair dye, a car crash, her response to a son having too much to drink as a college student. Jensen also presents humorous, cliché, and disheartening teen stories and testimonials from parents who have sought her advice.” – Marisa M. Silveri, Ph.D., Cerebrum

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Brain Books for Your Summer Reading List

“The brain has as many neurons as there are stars in the Milky Way.” –Nancy C. Andreasen M.D., Ph.D., Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives member

Cerebrum coverThis summer, as you go on vacation, relax, and ponder the mystery of the cosmos, take a good book with you that will have you contemplating the vastness of your own brain. The following summer reading list suggestions are all by Dana Alliance members or prominent neuroscientists and range from intellectual discovery to children’s poetry. Pick one up, and enjoy!

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From the Archives: Kay Redfield Jamison

At the end of her recent essay in the New York Times, “To Know Suicide: Depression can be treated, but it takes competence,” Dana Alliance member Kay Redfield Jamison mentions, almost in passing, her own suicide attempt. She wrote vividly about her experiences and those of others in her book, Night Falls Fast. Ellen Frank and David Kupfer reviewed the book for us in 2000; the review includes part of the book’s epilogue:

I was naive to underestimate how disturbing it would be to write this book. I knew, of course, that it would mean interviewing people about the most painful and private moments of their lives, and I also knew that I would inevitably be drawn into my own private dealings with suicide over the years. Neither prospect was an attractive one, but I wanted to do something about the untolled epidemic of suicide and the only thing I knew to do was to write a book about it. I am by temperament an optimist, and I thought from the beginning that there was much to be written about suicide that was strangely heartening.

As a clinician, I believed there were treatments that could save lives; as one surrounded by scientists whose explorations of the brain are elegant and profound, I believed our basic understanding of its biology was radically changing how we think about both mental illness and suicide; and as a teacher of young doctors and graduate students, I felt the future held out great promise for the intelligent and compassionate care of the suicidal mentally ill.

All of these things I still believe. Indeed, I believe them more strongly than I did when I first began doing the background research for this book two years ago. The science is of the first water; it is fast-paced, and it is laying down, pixel by pixel, gene by gene, the dendritic mosaic of the brain. Psychologists are deciphering the motivations for suicide and piecing together the final straws—the circumstances of life—that so dangerously ignite the brain’s vulnerabilities. And throughout the world, from Scandinavia to Australia, public health officials are mapping a clearly reasoned strategy to cut the death rate of suicide.

Still, the effort seems unhurried. Every seventeen minutes in America, someone commits suicide: Where is the public concern and outrage? I have become more impatient as a result of writing this book and am more acutely aware of the problems that stand in the way of denting the death count. I cannot rid my mind of the desolation, confusion, and guilt I have seen in the parents, children, friends, and colleagues of those who kill themselves. Nor can I shut out the images of the autopsy photographs of twelve-year-old children or the prom photographs of adolescents who within a year’s time will put a pistol in their mouths or jump from the top floor of a university dormitory. Looking at suicide—the sheer numbers, the pain leading up to it, and the suffering left behind—is harrowing. For every moment of exuberance in the science, or in the success of governments, there is a matching and terrible reality of the deaths themselves: the young deaths, the violent deaths, the unnecessary deaths.

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