A worthy follow-up to Restak's The Brain (1984), this erudite, popular, illustrated tour of the mind will, like its...
by ‧RELEASE DATE: Oct. 1, 1988
A worthy follow-up to Restak's The Brain (1984), this erudite, popular, illustrated tour of the mind will, like its predecessor, accompany a PBS series (scheduled for October airing). Restak doesn't deny mind's elusive nature (""we still have more questions than we have answers, and perhaps always will"") and admits the arbitrariness of the nine aspects of mind that the TV series--and thus he--chooses to examine. Within the nine (Search, Development, Aging, Addiction, Pain and Healing, Depression and Mood, Thinking, Language, and Violence), he walks a safe middle ground, relying equally on psychology and the neurosciences--and scoffing both at those who believe that mind can exist apart from brain and at the behavioralists who claim that mind doesn't exist at all. Although always clear, Restak embraces technical concepts and data--presenting, for instance, cogent updates on the role of the brain's opiate receptors in addiction, and on the legal and ethical subtleties of dealing with crime committed by the biochemically disturbed--and enlivens his recaps with a wealth of anecdotal material, some quite astounding. With extensive quoting of experts, and brisk summaries of scores of significant studies and trends--from teaching chimps to learn sign language to a look at electroconvulsive therapy as an antidote to clinical depression--Restak's survey proves both rigorous and enlightening. By no means exhaustive--the glaring omission of parapsychology and of any consideration of potential evolution of mind reflect distinct, rather dusty biases; and the copious illustrations are often more decorative than illuminating--but, still, within limited parameters, Restak offers much solid information and many challenging questions, delivered with style and likely to appeal to a large readership.