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Customer Review

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg...", 17 July 2007
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This review is from: The Brain: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
"...after all, the brain is stupendously complicated." O'Shea breaks up his Introduction into chapters on the history of brain studies, the workings of an individual neuron, the brain as a whole (each region's functions), sense and perception, memory creation and, finally, AI and bionics. Despite some parts getting a bit down and dirty with those damn `facts of the matter', O'Shea manages to write a pretty engaging book, as a whole.
Whilst some sentences, like:
"Ionotropic receptors mediate a direct and rapid coupling between neurotransmitter binding and the generation of a brief electrical signal in the post-synaptic neuron",
for example, can make simple fools like me say `eep', I say to you DON'T WORRY, FOOLS!, they are few and far between and happily compensated for with gems such as:
"Astonishingly, when I saw this demonstrated recently, about half the audience completely failed to notice the gorilla."
And again:
"One of the neurons responded when seven quite different pictures of the same actress, Jennifer Aniston, were shown; yet in an extraordinary display of selectivity and discrimination the same neuron did not respond to pictures of Jennifer with her then husband Brad Pitt."
Thankfully, O'Shea litters the book with just such little hooks. The letter-jumbling above is one example, the best though are the web-links like the `invisible gorilla' (unbelievable) and the McGurk effect. Pick them up as you read and they're like helpful extras which break up the prose and make it all a lot more like fun. I get the impression this book could have been soooooo boring in the wrong hands, but the man did good. If you're curious about the brain, this is a definite yes.
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