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A User's Guide To The Brain [Paperback]

Dr. John J. Ratey
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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A User's Guide To The Brain A User's Guide To The Brain 4.2 out of 5 stars (11)
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Book Description

1 Mar 2001
Bringing order and relevance to the cascade of recent brain findings, Dr John Ratey explains the brain's most important systems, the role they play in determining how we interact with the world and ways in which we can influence their operations for the better. Throughout, he illustrates his points with vivid and often surprising examples drawn from his own practice, research and everyday life. Ratey answers such compelling questions as: What does it mean to be linguistically ambidextrous? How does a mother's cradling of her child on her left shoulder relate to the development of language skills? Why does listening to music while doing homework improve accuracy? Why do people like spicy foods? He also analyses the ways in which things can go wrong, detailing causes and treatments for diseases such as autism, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, as well as numerous neurological disorders. As Dr. Ratey demonstrates throughout the book, the brain is astonishingly flexible, able to be retrained and reprogrammed. Like a muscle, it responds to use, adapting to new demands and conditions, allowing, as the title of the book suggests, the guidance of the user.


Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (1 Mar 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316854069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316854061
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 609,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Before consulting with customer service, it's always a good idea to read the manual. Psychiatrist John Ratey has condensed years of research on one of the most intimidating yet ubiquitous pieces of hardware in the world into the ever-handy User's Guide to the Brain. More intellectually stimulating than day-to-day practical, the Guide uses tales from Ratey's practice and other clinical venues, titbits from neuroscientific research, and plain common sense to suggest how the brain develops and manifests personality and behaviour. With section titles like "Free Will and the Anterior Cingulate Gyrus" many readers will feel intimidated, but Ratey is careful to direct his explanations to all--even those without PhD's in neuroanatomy. His four-theatre theory of mental function is interesting and the most directly practical section of the book, incorporating the author's years of experience with patients into a sensible framework that readers can use to better tune their own systems. Describing the changing of the guard from psychoanalysis to a more biological paradigm, Ratey writes:
Neuroscientists have, in a sense, simply taken over the elite, almost clerical office once held by analysts. The language used to describe the brain is, if any thing, more opaque than any of the old psychoanalytic terminology, which was itself so obscure that only trained professionals could wade through the literature. Most people never even bother to learn such terminology, deeming that, like the language of the computer scientists of the early 1970s, it is better left to the nerds.
Determined to help us overcome our sense of helplessness in matters cranial, he has shown that we can understand ourselves better and can learn quite a bit from the nerds. --Rob Lightner

Review

Compelling ... If you're only going to buy one brain book ever, you could do worse than investing in this one (FOCUS)

Make way for the thinking man's gym, where the brain is the new biceps and sculpting your grey matter rather than downsizing your backside is the ultimate aim of those who sign up for membership. (SUNDAY TIMES)

Before consulting with customer service, it's always a good idea to read the manual. Psychiatrist John Ratey has condensed years of research on one of the most intimidating yet ubiquitous pieces of hardware in the world into the ever-handy User's Guide to the Brain. More intellectually stimulating than day-to-day practical, the Guide uses tales from Ratey's practice and other clinical venues, titbits from neuroscientific research, and plain common sense to suggest how the brain develops and manifests personality and behaviour. With section titles like "Free Will and the Anterior Cingulate Gyrus" many readers will feel intimidated, but Ratey is careful to direct his explanations to all--even those without PhD's in neuroanatomy. His four-theatre theory of mental function is interesting and the most directly practical section of the book, incorporating the author's years of experience with patients into a sensible framework that readers can use to better tune their own systems. Describing the changing of the guard from psychoanalysis to a more biological paradigm, Ratey writes: (Neuroscientists have, in a sense, simply taken over the elite, almost clerical office once held by analysts. The language used to describe the brain is, if any thing, more opaque than any of the old psychoanalytic terminology, which was itself so obscure)

Determined to help us overcome our sense of helplessness in matters cranial, he has shown that we can understand ourselves better and can learn quite a bit from the nerds. (Rob Lightner, AMAZON.CO.UK REVIEW)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A plain English overview of how the brain works. 27 Sep 2001
By A Customer
The book is cleverly structured. Ratey draws you in by beginning each chapter with an account of a real person's perceptual difficulties, the problems these caused in their daily lives because of misdiagnosis and their eventual relief once the real cause was recognized - physical malfunction in the brain. The chapter then becomes more involved as we move away from the personal account to consider how the brain works with regard to the problems described. But the explanation is never overly technical and can easily be grasped by the non-specialist reader. A great deal of trouble has obviously been taken to carefully select the case studies and to present the material in plain English. The writing is concise. Technical terms are always explained when first used. People who are interested in the treatment of depression will find this book very useful. Although depression is not discussed as such, it may come as a revelation to some that we can actually train our brains to 'undepress' ourselves. Anti-depressant drugs, such as the SSRIs, certainly have a role to play but a reading of this book should convince anyone that drugs are by no means the whole answer.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book talks about the brain in a very simple way,without being simplistic.Full of examples and without becoming tiring it keeps the reader interested as it explains how the brain plays the most vital role in many disorders that have been considered psychologic and how drugs are not the only way to cure disorders of the brain.It gives a good background of the brain's physiology and explains the majority of brain function and the pathology that may occur to brain regions and the subsequent problems.In short a very good book that can prove valuable to everybody that uses their brain as it teaches how to use it better and make the most out of it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good information that I needed to know 25 Sep 2013
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Very helpful and informative, to help me understand what has happened to my brain after a stroke to help my recovery
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 4 Aug 2014
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