THE BRAIN HAS A MIND OF ITS OWN: Insights from a Practicing Neurologist by

THE BRAIN HAS A MIND OF ITS OWN: Insights from a Practicing Neurologist

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Restak (The Mind, 1988; The Brain, 1984, etc.) rests on his laurels a bit with these brief, breezy essays on technological innovations, ethical issues, and as-yet-unsolved mysteries in the fast-developing field of neurology. Is it possible for any individual to become a genius? Do we possess our brains, or are our brains all we are? Do our intentions precede our actions, or the other way around? These are some of the questions Restak addresses on breaks from his practice as a neuropsychiatrist, and thanks to new knowledge gained through modern technology, surprising answers are currently emerging. Brain activity in those of normal intelligence appears profoundly different on a PET scan from that of geniuses, for example--implying that an enriched environment may heighten intelligence but is unlikely to spawn a race of geniuses. On-scalp electrodes detect brain activity briefly preceding the conscious decision to act, suggesting that our brains are slightly ahead of our minds in dealing with the external world. Such recent discoveries in neurology have sparked fascinating philosophical debates elsewhere, but Restak abandons each topic just as it begins to get interesting, switching abruptly to the more personal issues he confronts in his consulting room. Ethical dilemmas such as whether to allow a patient in coma to die, whether to inform a patient that he has a degenerative disease that will eventually destroy his mind and Mil him, and whether to spend time on fruitless therapy sessions with a chronically schizophrenic woman are all potentially rich topics, but in failing to explore any one fully, these essays fail to satisfy. Cocktail party conversation--light and lively, but ultimately disappointing.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1991
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Harmony