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States of Mind: New Discoveries About How Our Brains Make Us Who We Are (Life Sciences) Hardcover – 16 Mar 1999


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (16 Mar. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471299634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471299639
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 2.2 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,908,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

From Publishers Weekly Eight crisply written reports about groundbreaking advances in brain research form this accessible tome based on a lecture series. Joseph LeDoux, NYU brain scientist, describes his exciting investigations into the human brain's ""fear system"" for detecting and responding to danger. The workings of this quick-response system, which bypasses the higher, ""thinking"" parts of the brain, provide a neurological basis for Freud's theory of the unconscious, he asserts. At the opposite pole, Harvard psychiatry professor J. Allan Hobson argues that while dreams consolidate memories and learning, their strange images are merely incidental physiological by-products, rather than symbols fraught with emotional meaning. Noting the prevalence of manic-depressive illness and depression among renowned artists, writers and composers, Johns Hopkins psychiatry professor Kay Redfield Jamison suggests that the genes predisposing an individual to these disorders might also confer a proclivity for creativity. Attempts to get rid of or to mute these genes pose a dilemma for society, she declares, since they may constitute one source of artistic genius. Bruce McEwen of Rockefeller University reports that chronic stress not only exacerbates a host of illnesses but also damages the hippocampus, a brain structure involved with memory, and Harvard psychologist Jerome Kagan explains why he believes our individual brain chemistries at birth predispose us to be outgoing or shy, bold or fearful. Based on a 1997 lecture series co-sponsored by Smithsonian Associates and the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, an organization of U.S. brain researchers, the volume is enhanced by chapter headnotes and illustrations ranging from a medieval medical woodcut to modern brain scans. Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

States of Mind States of Mind is a wonderfull accessible introduction to the most important recent findings about how our health, behavior, feelings, and identities are influenced by the workings of our brains. Eight pioneering researchers present remarkable new insights about how our inner lives—both of the mind and of the body—are generated and regulated by the marvelous biology going on inside our heads. These preeminent scientists offer a new way of understanding ourselves—of peering into the workings of our brains in order to appreciate how our emotions and moods, our memories and dreams come about. They also reveal a new understanding of health and illness and how important the interconnections between our minds and bodies are. Are we born to be shy? Why do we remember some events so clearly and others not at all? Do our dreams really have deeper meanings? Are creativity and depression somehow linked? How does stress affect our vulnerability to illness? Whether discussing the brain–body connection, the sources of emotion, or the ethereal world of dreams. these top experts offer lively and stimulating introductions to the most exciting findings, and a new way of understanding our lives.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
In the course of their lifetimes, as many as one in five Americans-regardless of age, race, or sex-will be affected by a major mental illness. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 April 1999
Format: Hardcover
It was with a certain amount of reluctance I approached States of Mind. For starters, it's about the brain and the mind, two topics which I often find incredibly good at inducing drowsiness. Second, and more seriously, it's a very collaborative affair. The front cover lists no less than eight authors, all experts in various aspects of neurobiology. But that turned out to be the book's saving grace.
Each article was originally a public lecture, designed for a non-specialist audience. And that's what makes the book so readable. First, the articles tend to have a very fluid, readable style, unlike so much academic prose. Because they were originally intended as lectures, they aren't as dense ... it's assumed the reader is a casual listener, rather than an expert, carefully reading and re-reading each sentence. And that makes this book a real treat. It's extremely enjoyable to read about the latest in brain research, explained by real experts in their fields, and in such a readable form.
The experts range from a Harvard professor (Jerome Kagan, director of the Mind-Brain-Behavior Initiative) to a best-selling author (Kay Redfield Jamison, who gives a fascinating look at manic depressives among the gifted). Despite covering a wide variety of topics, each article is eminently readable and flows nicely into the next. Which has to be a credit to the editor, Roberta Conlan. Obviously, this isn't a book for everyone. It does assume a certain background knowledge of the brain and how it works. But if you're interested in finding out what the state of our knowledge of the brain is, this is an excellent place to start.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 May 1999
Format: Hardcover
States of Mind is a fascinating book, offering opinions from some of the top neuroscientists and brain researchers in the country. LeDoux writes about fear, and what actually happens in our brain when we are afraid. Jamison writes about the connection between creativity and manic depression. If we cure manic depression, do we destroy creativity? Very interesting reading. And easy to comprehend by the lay person.
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By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on 15 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
This fine collection of essays provides an overview of the state of research on the mind/brain. Avoiding deeply technical or metaphysical issues [although not ignoring either] these essays describe some of the structural elements of the brain, how those elements guide our behaviour and what implications may be derived from this understanding. Roberta Conlan has chosen her authors well. Each selection clearly conveys its topic with supportive information and useful graphics to aid our grasp of the subject. This book is a fine starting point for any study of how the brain works, both physically and cognitively.
The underlying theme throughout the essays is the evolutionary process. How has adaptation led the human brain to today's conditions? In any study of the brain, it is the abnormalities that provide focus. These essayists accept that both genetics and environment work together to create the dispositions humans now possess. No single element can be isolated in understanding how the brain functions. Beginning with the physical, especially the neuron's structure and operation, they move on to demonstrate how changes in brain chemistry can lead to addictions, mood swings and even creativity. The authors don't shun the many ethical questions about brain research or therapies. However, they insist that a new framework for psychological studies is required, one based on evolutionary, hence, biological foundations. In essayist Eric Kandel's words, "Everything is organic."
If any of the essays must be selected as the outstanding one, it is J.Allan Hobsan's study of sleep and dreaming. He describes the neurochemistry of dreaming before relating studies of both human and animal dream indicators.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Mind: the Final Frontier 26 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It was with a certain amount of reluctance I approached States of Mind. For starters, it's about the brain and the mind, two topics which I often find incredibly good at inducing drowsiness. Second, and more seriously, it's a very collaborative affair. The front cover lists no less than eight authors, all experts in various aspects of neurobiology. But that turned out to be the book's saving grace.
Each article was originally a public lecture, designed for a non-specialist audience. And that's what makes the book so readable. First, the articles tend to have a very fluid, readable style, unlike so much academic prose. Because they were originally intended as lectures, they aren't as dense ... it's assumed the reader is a casual listener, rather than an expert, carefully reading and re-reading each sentence. And that makes this book a real treat. It's extremely enjoyable to read about the latest in brain research, explained by real experts in their fields, and in such a readable form.
The experts range from a Harvard professor (Jerome Kagan, director of the Mind-Brain-Behavior Initiative) to a best-selling author (Kay Redfield Jamison, who gives a fascinating look at manic depressives among the gifted). Despite covering a wide variety of topics, each article is eminently readable and flows nicely into the next. Which has to be a credit to the editor, Roberta Conlan. Obviously, this isn't a book for everyone. It does assume a certain background knowledge of the brain and how it works. But if you're interested in finding out what the state of our knowledge of the brain is, this is an excellent place to start. Our picture of the mind changes so radically with each passing year that you have to read something very up-to-date if you want to avoid "learning" something that's no longer thought to be true.
If there's any real surprise here, it's the current state of the endless "nature vs. nurture" debate. For much of this century, we seem to have been in "nurture mode", endlessly arguing the primacy of environment over genetics. But the experts in this book certainly lean the other way. Not that anyone is arguing that environment isn't relevant, but there does seem to be a strong tendency to assume that genetics are more important. So in summary it's readable, up to date and full of great information. A bit specialized, but if you're curious about how that lump of matter between your ears works, you won't do much better than this. For more science book reviews, check out my web page, at exn.net/printedmatter
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
I raise my glass to science 31 Mar. 2001
By Roger McEvilly (the guilty bystander) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I was most impressed with this book. Firstly, there is the correct attitude to approach the subject, with humility, and open discussion. There are no bones to pick, no doctrines to sell. Just a gathering together to try and understand something enormously relevant and complicated-the brain. Secondly, it is at the forefront of academic research. Thirdly, it is eminently readable.
The brain is an important subject to study. A proper understanding of its functioning and 'malfunctioning' can only help humanity. Brain scientists are gathering together from various sub-disciplines of the greater field of biology, including evolution and genetics, immunology, biochemistry, and cellular biology, to understand the brain. Those beetle watchers have upstarted the academic community again! Not surpising, since we happen to be animals, part of the biosphere. (Incidentally, this includes our brains).
There are up to date discussions on such things as susceptibility, 'second hits' (environmental influence), addiction, learning, shyness, introvert/extravert behavioural dispositions, mood disorders, creativity, manic depression, and schizophrenia, with some interesting analyses of famous poets, writers and artists included. Stress, what it means, the relationship to the immune system, and advances in therapy are discussed. Emotions, fear, and reason is discussed in the light of recent ideas and discoveries. Finally dreams, what they are, and what they do and don't mean.
There is a lot of good stuff here. Most importantly was the bringing together of ideas and research from various disciplines-we might like to compartmentalise our various learning streams in society-but that isn't necasarily how the brain operates. The links between stress, the immune system and the brain is a good example. There are real discoveries here, and real solutions. Facilitated by cross-fertilisation of ideas, and co-operation amongst disciplines. It is great stuff.
I look forward to what may be the coming 'century of the brain'. This book, in both its attitudes, and its discoveries, I found inspirational.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Mind set 26 Dec. 2000
By Atheen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
One of my friends and I have an on going email conversation regarding the evolution of mind and human behavioral attributes. This volume suggested itself to me as a worthy source of useful information on the subject, and indeed it is. Although I liked "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers" better (for which check my review or the listing), it was more because I enjoyed that author's slightly flip and irreverant style, than because this book is less informative. In fact, the two books have different purposes altogether, and each is successful. Whereas the former book is dedicated to explaining how the mind effects us physically, "States of Mind" is a collection of short essays on the research into the anatomy of the human brain, and into conciousness, emotional behavior, memory, etc. They are the written adaptations of a series of lectures delivered at a conference entitled "Understanding the Human Psyche." For anyone who has not attended such a conference or a colloquium given in honor of a respected academic, the format familiar to those of us who have is that such a collection consists of brief essays on selected, loosely related topics chosen from a given area of enquirey, each preceded by an introduction of the speaker/writter by the coordinator of the conference. This tends to produce a book that is less smooth in its transitions between chapters than one produced by an individual mind, like Zebras. The information in each chapter, while it certainly brings one up to date on some of the newer research and is a self contained unit, is not intended to carry one logically from chapter to chapter to an overriding conclusion. It is instead more like a professional journal in hard cover. The lay person will still find much of interest, as all of the authors have made their topics narrow, their terms clear, and have introduced pertinent information on results rather than on methods--although these too were added where they were significant to the discussion. The book is a quite practical volume in some respects, not merely a collection of unusual findings for the the curious; I found the subject of memory of particular significance. A friend of mine is having problems with her mother whose memory is starting to fail her. Some of the recent problems that have arisen between them might be avoided by simply knowing which areas of memory my friend's mother is most likely to have difficulty with and which are likely to remain dependable. I plan on loaning my friend the book so that she can read the appropriate chapters. I suspect she will find at least some comfort in them. I know I did. I also plan on sending the book to my friend Roger for his own perusal! I can hardly wait for our usual exchange of opinions on the subject!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
great book!!! 20 Feb. 2003
By Changhoon Cho - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I am a graduate student studying neurobiology, and I always try to expand my knowledge of everything from molecule to behavior. This book has been a great starting point to me. All authors are well-known neuroscientists and I even found more articles of those authors and those topics covered in it and enjoyed reading them. It's easy to read and I hope to read more books like this quality book. Highly recommend!! One last thing is that "mind" concept is not easy to catch for me yet, I think I have something in my mind to be figured out;)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"Everything is organic"! 31 May 2002
By Stephen A. Haines - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This fine collection of essays provides an overview of the state of research on the mind/brain. Avoiding deeply technical or metaphysical issues [although not ignoring either] these essays describe some of the structural elements of the brain, how those elements guide our behaviour and what implications may be derived from this understanding. Roberta Conlan has chosen her authors well. Each selection clearly conveys its topic with supportive information and useful graphics to aid our grasp of the subject. This book is a fine starting point for any study of how the brain works, both physically and cognitively.
The underlying theme throughout the essays is the evolutionary process. How has adaptation led the human brain to today's conditions? In any study of the brain, it is the abnormalities that provide focus. These essayists accept that both genetics and environment work together to create the dispositions humans now possess. No single element can be isolated in understanding how the brain functions. Beginning with the physical, especially the neuron's structure and operation, they move on to demonstrate how changes in brain chemistry can lead to addictions, mood swings and even creativity. The authors don't shun the many ethical questions about brain research or therapies. However, they insist that a new framework for psychological studies is required, one based on evolutionary, hence, biological foundations. In essayist Eric Kandel's words, "Everything is organic."
If any of the essays must be selected as the outstanding one, it is J.Allan Hobsan's study of sleep and dreaming. He describes the neurochemistry of dreaming before relating studies of both human and animal dream indicators. Hobsan postulates five distinct sleep periods, REM [Rapid Eye Movement] sleep with Recognizing that relating dream content is fraught with imponderables, he nevertheless builds a case for a biological basis for dreams.
With the rapid advances being made in human cognitive studies, many works are quickly outdated. This book provides a foundation for analysing and assessing updating publications. It's a worthwhile investment and will retain a useful place on anyone's shelves for some time to come. Read it to find out how it will help understand yourself and those around you. You won't be disappointed.
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