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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book for the General Reader on this Subject
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...
Published 11 months ago by John Pullen

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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
This is an interesting and easily read book. Unfortunately the author has not included any references or bibliography .This is a serious flaw because he makes some very interesting and controversial points but the reader is unable to find out more or check the author's conclusions because no detailed information is given.
I know this is a 'popular' science book and...
Published 12 months ago by val


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book for the General Reader on this Subject, 1 April 2014
By 
John Pullen (London UK) - See all my reviews
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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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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monumentally Important Reality Check and Myth Buster, 17 Jan. 2014
By 
David Wineberg "David Wineberg" (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: We Are Our Brains: From the Womb to Alzheimer's (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.Some other tidbits along the way:

-It was not until 1940s that scientists discovered the brain produced hormones, and doctors castigated and vilified Ernst and Berta Scharrer for making such an absurd claim.
-Eye contact between two women leads to more creative outcomes. Eye contact by men prevents them coming to terms.
-Given dolls and toy cars, baby monkeys always choose according to gender - dolls for females, cars for males.
-The brains of rabbits raised in hutches are 15-30% smaller than in wild rabbits that develop their wits and skills - Charles Darwin, 1871
-Segregating children in belief-based schools is "pernicious". It not only prevents them from learning how to think critically, but it also fosters an intolerant attitude towards other beliefs.
-Boxing is "neuropornography". Watching it is like taking an entire course in neurology. You see impaired speech, unsteady gait, wandering eyes, epileptic fits, semi-consciousness, unconsciousness, and occasionally, brain death. Right on TV, for the whole family. 400 boxers have been killed in the past 70 years. "Civilized" nations have banned it.

After describing the incredibly destructive effects of Ecstasy and the new, extraordinarily potent cannabis, he lists a string of US presidents (among others) and asks why we don't subject these world leaders to the same substance abuse standards we have for ordinary say, drivers? When Kennedy (cocaine), Nixon (alcohol), Clinton (cannabis), and Bush (cocaine, alcohol) all abused to offensive extents, you have to wonder if the world could have been a better place.

Swaab says 90% of Dutch prisoners have mental disorders and that criminal law should only be applied to people with healthy brains. The justice system should be evidence-based. While we do try new approaches, it's never done scientifically (with a control group), so the results will always be suspect.Lawyers, not researchers, get to experiment. Most criminals need treatment. Imprisonment, probation, halfway houses and community service do nothing to treat them, cure them or prevent them from acting out again.

There is an unexpected section on the mental illnesses of religious figures, who all (self) describe the classic symptoms of frontal lobe epilepsy. The 18 symptoms include voices, hallucinations, temporary blindness, and more. The figures include Paul, Mohammed, Van Gogh, Dostoyevsky and Joan of Arc, who extensively documented their (almost identical) experiences for the ages. They received their directions directly from Jesus and/or God, and became deeply religious. Non-Christian epileptics do not have the same communication sources.

He also debunks various paranormal and spiritual explanations for things like out-of-body experiences, by showing exactly where in the brain that pressure or stimulation will cause these phenomena.

Having read Swaab's sobering analysis of dementia and Alzheimer's, I became concerned when he began repeating himself: the same stories about the same patients. But late in the book he reveals that this all came from a series of columns a newspaper asked him to write, which neatly provides a non-demented alibi. Still, a little more editing would help.

I would have liked more detail in two areas: how character forms, develops and maintains or changes, and the effects of pollutants in air, water, and food. Swaab totally ignores the up and coming field of environmental medicine, which posits that the dose is not what makes the poison, another "fact" we have wrong. Chemical compounds our bodies can never encounter in nature latch on to receptors meant for messengers from our brains. They wreak havoc, as the body not only doesn't know what to do with them, but must accept them. And they block the intended messengers. The result is a large number of "new" chronic diseases that are changing the face of medicine - and life.

We Are Our Brains is technically, pure dry medical science. But it elicits feelings and emotions far stronger than works of fiction. The drama of people entering eras of illness they take years to even understand, let alone cope with and work around, is moving, disconcerting and frightening. The things that can go wrong and the atomic level sources of them is intimidating. The immense body of knowledge we have amassed just in the last hundred years is so insignificant it is awesome.

David Wineberg
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, 1 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: We Are Our Brains: From the Womb to Alzheimer's (Kindle Edition)
This is the most important book I have read for some time. Dick Swaab's clinical view of human behaviour is both praiseworthy and rather frightening.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary, 11 Dec. 2014
By 
Ms. Abigail J. Rhodes "Josie Rhodes" (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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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 reader feeling that they have a basic grounding in today's neuroscience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really interesting, 31 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: We Are Our Brains: From the Womb to Alzheimer's (Kindle Edition)
Slightly heavy content, but told with a light touch. Really interesting stuff and changed my perception on a wide range of issues - now I know what I'm talking about!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evidently experience of a Professor Emeritus, 7 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: We Are Our Brains: From the Womb to Alzheimer's (Kindle Edition)
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
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It was a bit technical for me but for all ..., 15 July 2014
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It was a bit technical for me but for all that i was able to understand the explanations and the practical applications and implications. Very interesting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book! So interesting, 26 Jan. 2015
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Amazing book! So interesting. Would recommend it to everyone, especially expecting parents. Gives some good advice on how not to mess up a child.
Also covers some controversial topics with an interesting perspective such as religion, eating disorders, euthanasia, addictive substances, free will, sports, moral behavior and so on.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mike Buchanan JUSTICE FOR MEN & BOYS (and the women who love them) http, 1 Jan. 2015
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A remarkable book, which reveals there are 'many hundreds' of differences between the brains of gender-typical men and women. Who - other than feminists - could possibly be surprised by that?

Mike Buchanan

JUSTICE FOR MEN & BOYS
(and the women who love them)

http://j4mb.org.uk
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must read", 1 Feb. 2014
By 
 - See all my reviews
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This review is from: We Are Our Brains: From the Womb to Alzheimer's (Kindle Edition)
A blockbuster of a book, the best general introduction to brain science I have seen, and written by an expert in the field, too. I was gripped from cover to cover.

Some of the implications make for uncomfortable reading, particularly for politicians and law enforcers, and religions too, but what Swaab says needs to be said, and needs a larger audience.

Advanced proof supplied by NetGalley.
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