THE CHEMISTRY OF CONSCIOUS STATES

HOW THE BRAIN CHANGES ITS MIND

A prominent neurophysiologist explains his theories about the brain's chemistry and how it affects our conscious (and unconscious) activities. Hobson (Psychiatry/Harvard) espouses a kind of yin-yang view of the brain in which waking states are dominated by ``amines'' (neurotransmitters like norepinephrine that are associated with attention and arousal) and sleeping and vegetative states by acetylcholine. In this hydrodynamic theory amines are depleted as the day wears on and the cholinergic levels rise, precipitating sleep and dreaming—a time when acetylcholine is at its peak. During sleep the system is building up its supply of amines, eventually waking us up. Not altogether a surprising theory, considering that Hobson's first book, The Dreaming Brain and Sleep (not reviewed), reflected similarly his lifelong research into sleep, collection of dream journals, and experiments with lucid (i.e., self-conscious) dreaming. While the notion that we are ruled by our neurochemistry will hardly shock enlightened readers, the tendency in approaches like Hobson's is to overinterpret: Thus the schizophrenic's hallucinations, the fits of expletive-slinging common in Tourette's patients, and the suggestibility of hypnotizable people are all given as examples of involuntary loss of control occurring in waking states (whereas dream sleep creates controls that prevent violent acting out). Curiously, with all the explanatory weight Hobson puts on the importance of sleep and dreaming, he is the first to admit that no one can explain the necessity of dreams; he even suggests that newer drugs that promote production of amines may obviate the need for dreaming. There is obviously more to brain-mind states, more to the bag of neurochemicals and byways of neural circuitry, than Hobson can account for. All the same, his case studies, autobiographical anecdotes, and guidance on how to deal with sleep problems without drugs will intrigue many readers and possibly provide relief to others.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-316-36754-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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