An engaging, in-depth, and accessible book on brain function.




An exhaustive look at the process behind the formation of thoughts and memories.

Debut author Dharani, a medical doctor, expounds on his “molecular-grid model” of thought generation in this work. He begins by explaining the anatomy of the human brain and nervous system before zeroing in on the composition and electrochemical functions of neurons and dendrites. Next, he describes how particular brain pathways are involved in the formation of various types of memory, including short-term and long-term memory as well as episodic and semantic memory (the latter involving accumulated, general knowledge). The fundamental unit of ideas and memories, he says, is a “primary thought,” which is “formed from each and every sensory input.” (Dharani uses the perception of the color blue as a particularly effective recurring example.) The ability to form primary thoughts, he says, appears to be inherited or possibly innate; they arise in response to everyday stimuli and sensations, he asserts, and they combine to form more complex ideas. He argues that such thoughts are generated in the “molecular grid” in the dendritic membrane, specifically, rather than in the whole neuron, and he details the protein interactions by which it works. Other sections explore the evolution of the mind and the differences between neurons and man-made computers. This well-structured book uses bullet points and frequent diagrams to ensure that its copious information is always reader-friendly. It also italicizes and boldfaces key words and phrases, which correspond with helpful entries in the glossary and index. One particular chapter, which goes deeper into the formation of memory traces and dendritic pleats, may be the most interesting section for general readers, as it discusses mental pathways that exist in utero and in newborns—which, he says, may explain artistic prodigies, such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Only one chapter, which discusses the metaphysics of thought, seems slightly out of place, as its philosophical theme contrasts with the remainder’s physiological focus.

An engaging, in-depth, and accessible book on brain function.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-12-800900-0

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Academic Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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