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Bad Moves: How decision making goes wrong, and the ethics of smart drugs Hardcover – 25 Apr 2013

4.1 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (25 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199668477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199668472
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 2.3 x 14.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 917,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

With this accessible primer, full of medical anecdotes and clear explanations, Sahakian and Labuzetta prepare the public for an informed discussion about the role of drugs in our society. (Nature)

About the Author

Barbara J Sahakian is a world-renowned researcher in the fields of neurology and psychiatry, and is currently based at University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine in the Department of Clinical Neuropsychology. She is co-inventor of the CANTAB computerised neuropsychological tests, which are in use world-wide. She is probably best known for her research work on cognition and depression, cognitive enhancement using pharmacological treatments, neuroethics and early detection of Alzheimer's disease. She has over 300 publications covering these topics in various journals including Science, Nature Neuroscience, The Lancet, British Medical Journal, Archives of General Psychiatry, American Journal of Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry, The Journal ofNeuroscience, Brain, Psychopharmacology, and Psychological Medicine. In recognition of her contribution to cognitive neuroscience, she was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2004. Jamie Nicole LaBuzetta received her medical degree from UCSD, and is currently in the midst of her residency training at the Harvard-affiliated hospitals in Boston, USA. She is a neurology resident at the Partners program (Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women's, two of the Harvard-affiliated hospitals). Her current academic interests are in neurocritical care and neuroethics, and she was recently co-author of an article discussing ethical issues involved in consenting vulnerable patients for neuroscientific research.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The problem that I've got with this book is really that it's too short to cover the range of subjects it aims to cover. It discusses bad decision-making in moderate detail, including looking at a number of studies on where this goes wrong and its impact, but my impression is that 'Thinking Fast and Slow' covered this side better. The comprises the bulk of the book.
After this, there is a minimal amount of discussion about smart drugs, basically covering Ritalin and Modafinil, but basically ignoring the range of other smart drugs on the market, and mainly focuses on Modafinils potential to reduce levels of tiredness. It spends more time discussing the ethics of smart drug use in an otherwise healthy population, and tries to cover both sides of the argument, but not, to my mind, particularly convincingly - it would have been better to include not just a dispassionate outline of both sides of the argument with short arguments from proponents and opponents of using these drugs in a healthy population.
In all, the book is too short, and cannot cover the subject in sufficient detail, and focuses as a result mainly on ethics and theory and little on practical implications or how else someone could improve their decision-making.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There are a number of books out there that look at the efficacy of drugs to treat psychiatric disorders. This book initially looks at the difference between normal and abnormal decision making and the neuroscience that defines the two. The truth is that we have a psychiatric establishment and powerful pharmaceutical lobby whose vested interest is to constantly redefine normal and bring out drugs that allegedly target chemical imbalances to ensure that "normal" is achieved using their product. As other reviewers have said there are assumptions within the book that all consciousness is just chemical in nature and as a result, the implication is that decision making is also wholly affected by the brain's chemistry at any one given moment in time. There are other questions that need to be asked: What do we mean by bad decisions? Why are those decisions bad? What makes a decision good? Whose perception is it that a decision is good or bad? What is the difference between concious and unconcious decision making? Whether this research can be used to effectively target specific neurochemistry to alter cognitive functioning with only positive benefit is a question I thought wasn't fully answered. It is an interesting, thoughtful and accessible work.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
An interesting book for both the general lay reader and the more specialist mental health practitioner, this is a well presented analysis of the value in using drugs to enhance decision making.

Of course as with so many books along these lines, it often appears the bottom-line assumption is that our consciousness is entirely reliant on the chemical interactions in our brains, when there is of course no evidence at all this is the case- it is just perceived scientific wisdom that believes it to be so. In that way the brain may create the physical environment for 'decision 'making' but it has little to do with the actual decision making process, meaning drugs can do very little to enhance that process and by affecting brain function, may actually most of the time inhibit decision making more than anything else. Of course brain-damage can affect decision-making and the type of consciousness people experience, but that may be more along the lines of a how a damaged radio scrambles its signal more than an 'engine' malfunctioning. So, again, chemical drugs may be useless if this is the case and do more harm than good, despite all the best intentions and the identification of 'hot' and 'cold' regions of the brain charted in this book.

So largely a clinical assessment of the value and effectiveness of chemical drug use and a competent enough one at that but the issue- a fundamental one at that- of what exactly consciousness is and it's relationship to physical brain function seems to be side-stepped somewhat. A good read nonetheless that is thought-provoking and opens up debate in an area that needs much more consideration, and worth a look.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As I'm interested in decision making I was intrigued by the opportunity to learn more about the neuroscience underpinning this important part of the brain's cognitive functioning. Whilst the use of drugs to enhance decision making has never formed part of my interest in the subject I certainly found this aspect of the book to be wholly fascinating. Should we be concerned about the evolution of medicinal drugs to enhance decision making? I guess that all depends on your own belief system. This is a relatively slim read and is all the better for it. Highly recommended for anyone with a passing interest in the subject.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a very interesting book. It is short just 130 odd pages with the notes etc, Which is actually good for the gerneral reader (of which I am). If the book was longer it may put some readers off but being the size it is. It was possible to read through in a day. I found it an interesting read. The first chapter gripped me as the author's state on page 2

"in a very real sense, our selves - are the products of our decisions".

Which is true. A helpful reminder here.
The book goes on to discussions the process we go through when making a decision, then what happens when illness changes how we decide. Before looking at various drugs which can help those who are ill, but now are even being used by heathly persons. The authors ask if this use of a drug to helped stressed people make better choices is right.
A very interesting read.
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