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We Are Our Brains: From the Womb to Alzheimer's [Kindle Edition]

Dick Swaab , Jane Hedley-Prole
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Everything we think, do, and refrain from doing is determined by our brain. It shapes our potential, our limitations, and our characters. In other words, we don't just have brains; we are our brains. This forceful conclusion is at the heart of pre-eminent brain researcher Dick Swaab's dutch bestseller. In short, engaging chapters, Swaab explains what is going on in our brains at every stage of life, from the womb to what happens when we fall in love or get Alzheimer's. Provocative, opinionated and utterly convincing, We Are Our Brains illuminates this complex organ's role in shaping every aspect of human existence.

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Product Description


A fun, wild ride through contemporary brain science... It has been a big bestseller in Holland and may well be one here... As a read and a guide to the big science of the moment, this book is fun and informative... As an ice-breaker at parties, it is unmatched (Bryan Appleyard The Sunday Times)

Currently reading Dick Swaab's We Are Our Brains - it is engrossing, intriguing and enlightening (Robin Ince)

This is a book to keep beside the First Aid Manual. It may not save your life, but Swaab's liberal theses and lively case studies will vividly improve and illuminate it (Iain Finlayson The Times)

About the Author

Dick Swaab is a renowned neuroscience researcher who has received international acclaim for his work on sex differences in the brain, Alzheimer's disease and depression. He served as director of the Netherlands Institute for Brain Research for 27 years and received the Academy medal for his significant role in international neuroscience.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2709 KB
  • Print Length: 387 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (16 Jan. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HEW79B0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #31,895 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book for the General Reader on this Subject 1 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The brain is probably the most complicated and sophisticated object we are ever likely to encounter. Many aspects have remained a mystery (and many others still do) but this book opens the lid on many of them. Because the subject is so entwined with every aspect of our lives, it has taken a remarkable book to try to bring it all together and answer many of the questions we may ask and also many that we have not thought to ask.
The medical facts and the author's personal opinions are well thought out and presented. This is a subject I am trained in and I have produced both books and documentaries on related aspects of this subject and it has helped to answer some of the questions I have posed to myself.
If you want to try to better understand yourself and the people around you, then you can do no better than this book as a start into perhaps the most fascinating subject you can think of.

John Pullen
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I like
Swaab, Dick. We Are Our Brains
This is not a difficult book, but it’s a long and deep one. Swaab’s heavily Darwinian take on the brain’s function will not appeal to advocates of Intelligent Design, Pro Lifers or those who expect another existence elsewhere. In other words, his method is strictly scientific and practical. It is a well-structured book, each aspect of the workings of the brain in our everyday lives is clearly laid out with abundant images of the inner world we depend on but never see. Many common afflictions are explained and illustrated in just sufficient detail for the so-called intelligent layman to grasp. Sometimes I confess to being baffled by the jargon, by the battery of unfamiliar terms such as his expananation of the remarkable 23 year old woman who depite being in a vegetative state for five months her brain was remarkably undamaged: ‘When asked to “visit” all the rooms in her house in her mind, activity was seen in the parts of the brain that control spatial orientation and locomotion: the para hippocampal gyrus (fig.26), the parietal cortex (fig.1) and the lateral premotor cortex (fig 22).’ If you are a really serious reader you’ll need to keep your thumb in several places at once.

That said, I found the book a revelation. The information is given in small bursts, always with apposite warnings, often with humour or reference to known public figures or the common stock of literature. Churchill’s ‘black dogs’ or Lewis Caroll’s fantasies, for example, all have ther roots in the brain, and, most importantly for Swaab, in the development of the pre-born child, the relationship in the womb of mother and child.

Thus, in effect, the book is strongly biological rather than environmental in emphasis.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Horizon
Very interesting but with absolutely no referencing or links to any of the studies he mentions, you can't check the original source material and feel like you're just reading someone else's opinion. Some of his claims are a little questionable, but definitely food for thought. He doesn't seem to take into account any social or environmental factors and doesn't consider an individual's ability to question, manipulate or change one's own behaviour patterns. He also doesn't mention anything about the brains plasticity and ability to alter it's structure over time (for example London Cab Drivers having an enlarged area of the brain relating to memory). Do parts of the brain change over time because of social conditioning for example, which may account for some differences between male and female? I'm left slightly unsatisfied but this book will certainly prompt me to read other slightly different approaches to the brain, particularly in relation to gender.
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
DF Swaab's book on the brain is a revelation. He uses this lifelong passion for neurology to strip away the falsehoods. The details of the state of our knowledge is up to the minute, right from the front lines of research. It's a breeze to read, but it's still a tough slog. It's not filled with overwhelming five dollar words, but there is so much to absorb in every paragraph, I found myself constantly going back to make sure I got it all and got it right. Its importance to everyday understanding of ourselves is towering.

The book is structured along the lines of life, from conception to death and all the different ways the brain performs at the various stages. And it is demonstrably different at every age. The description of the unborn's connection to the mother's brain is alone worth the price of admission.

I particularly appreciated Swaab's debunking of "pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo" such as homosexuality being a chosen, learned, environmental condition (including overbearing, dominant mothers), or any number of other diseases and conditions that are also entirely programmed before birth and develop later.Environment can make absolutely no difference, he says.

The brain is not fully formed at birth and doesn't reach its full size, shape and structure until our mid 20s. It does continue to grow, it can repair itself and it does compensate for damage, despite our being taught that we peak at age 16 and brain cells just die off from that point and are never replaced.

Another "fact" we have backwards is that difficult births cause brain development problems. Swaab shows it is precisely the other way around: difficult labor/births are consequences of brain development problems. This frank, direct information is sadly lacking in general circulation.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Highly interesting. A valuable insight away from Main Street lies about how the brain functions
Published 1 month ago by Citta Mudra
4.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves...
really interesting when he stays within his professional remit. Really odd when he doesn't.
Published 2 months ago by A reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 2 months ago by Chris Taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking book
A thought provoking (very readable) and wide ranging review of the brains function and it's possible failings
Published 2 months ago by Dr Colin Kelcey
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
An amazing book
Published 5 months ago by Don1
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book! So interesting
Amazing book! So interesting. Would recommend it to everyone, especially expecting parents. Gives some good advice on how not to mess up a child. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Elliot ross
5.0 out of 5 stars Mike Buchanan JUSTICE FOR MEN & BOYS (and the women who love them)...
A remarkable book, which reveals there are 'many hundreds' of differences between the brains of gender-typical men and women. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mike Buchanan
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary
Extraordinary book that takes the reader through all aspects of the brain and its functions. Simple and easy to read, with little to no jargon, but scientific enough to leave the... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Ms. Abigail J. Rhodes
5.0 out of 5 stars Evidently experience of a Professor Emeritus
Fascinating detailed knowledge to one who had no knowledge at all which makes this reader's judgement completely worthless to anyone else but I found it fascinating
Published 13 months ago by Stan Ford
3.0 out of 5 stars A report on brain science; and some polemics
Mostly a report on all aspects of brain science but with some passing polemic - for instance on the harm religion has caused humanity - and recollections - eg of the author... Read more
Published 13 months ago by William Jordan
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