MEGABRAIN: New Tools and Techniques for Brain Growth and Mind Expansion by Michael Hutchison

MEGABRAIN: New Tools and Techniques for Brain Growth and Mind Expansion

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Hutchison begins his excursion into mind machines with an anecdote about what happened when he arranged for a demonstration of a Whole Brain Wave Form Synchro-Energizer for a magazine editor and himself. The skeptical editor donned the goggles and earphones and soon went off into blissful visions of chanting monks, prismatic colors, and spiraling suns. ""I'm experiencing euphoria,"" he said. And so it goes as Hutchison, a cheery expositor, babbles along about what's new (and old) in neuroscience as prelude to his survey of a dozen devices now available to tune your brain and turn you on. The theories pondered in Part I have much to do with the nature of brain waves--the rapid betas, slower alphas, still slower thetas, and deep-sleep deltas. And the theory has to do with right brain/left brain synchronization: a phenomenon noted earlier by yoga watchers. The goal is to achieve ""lucid awareness "". . .characterized by integration and synchrony of the hemispheres. Hutchison invokes Ilya Prigogine's ideas of self-organizing dissipative structures: The brain, by taking in energy at high levels, can achieve new, more complex levels of organization--the ""aha"" or ""peak"" experiences. In more traditional terms, Hutchison discusses experiments in which exposure to stimulating environments leads to significant brain growth (thickening of the cortex, bigger cells, more dendrites, etc.) in rats--even old rats. The growth is also related to production of neurochemicals, and Hutchison suggests that certain electrical energies stimulate production of endorphins, brain chemicals associated with rewards, the control of pain, and learning. Put all these ideas together and they persuade Hutchison and others that some external energy jolts to the brain will yield new growth, new health, and ""aha. ""How you do it is with a CAP SCAN, a MIND MIRROR, a HEMI-SYNC and assorted other big or little black boxes, caps, goggles and headphones, or by immersion into a flotation tank. Hutchison admits there is little hard evidence here; no controls, no failures; a high level of self-selection among volunteers satisfied with the devices and approaches. Clearly caveats are needed. Some of the devices were originally marketed for pain control. (How come the pain patients don't report ecstasy?) Some external driving by light flashes can induce seizures. And what about the carry-over? How much insight and learning is sustained after you turn off the device? In short, one can agree that the brain is ""the last frontier,"" but it seems unlikely that there is any shortcut to crossing the frontier into the promised land. A glib survey of what's new in mind-bending.

Pub Date: Feb. 19th, 1985
Publisher: Beech Tree/Morrow