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VINE VOICEon 30 June 2014
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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on 12 January 2014
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? )
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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VINE VOICEon 26 November 2013
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? )
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? )
Bad Moves: How decision making goes wrong, and the ethics of smart drugs
If you only read the capitalised part of the title you might expect a critique of “Strictly come dancing” – I jest.
This is a relatively short book ( 130 pages plus instructive notes which are useful , but it becomes very tedious flipping back and forth and there can some confusion with traditional external literature reference numbers) – basically an introduction to the scientifically minded lay reader and a primer for more budding neuroscientists
The first 80 pages or so are a brief background to the subject
It starts with some graphic tales of injuries to the brain – particularly frontal lobes and moves onto effects of external physical and internal degenerative brain damage and its effects.
The authors go on to review everyday decision making as a marker of normal brain function starting with a review of decision making – hot (includes emotion) / cold (pure logic) options. There is an interesting short section as to how words or wording influences decisions and as to different types of decision makers – risk takers, risk adverse, status quo and how these behave under differing circumstances
We move onto a short history of the knowledge of the brain and it functions and the pre 1970’s surgical techniques such as dividing the brain halves (epilepsy) and frontal lobotomy (limiting certain behaviours) and lessons learned from such crude “cutting” of neural pathways.
Coming to more modern times, there is a discussion of the (relatively) the non invasive techniques monitoring the brain in action –, MRI, PET, fMRI – mainly detecting blood flow via magnetic resonance or radioactive decay .The assumption is that viewing oxygen use in part of the brain correlates with activities in progress in the rest of the body (mechanical actions, focussed thought, sexual arousal etc)
We move onto location of possible damaged areas of the brain and a review of emotional behaviours on a continuous spectrum – manic and extreme depressive behaviours and bipolar disorder – and its impact on “ suitability “ (or not) of decisions in life – and its effect on individuals ability to fit into society. Autism and Aspergers syndromes are also discussed and their implications. In the case of depressive or bipolar sufferers several historical figures like Churchill, President Lincoln and Lady Caroline Lamb are cited as sufferers whose lives were a constant battle.
Finally we start the discussions of possible extreme therapies like surgery (for bleeding in the brain) onto the use drugs to affect the levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin, acetylcholine dopamine and others. Drugs which affect their generation and destruction in particular – which can affect function and moods. The last 50 pages or so of the book tackles the work SOME of these drugs like stimulants such as methyl phenidate ( Ritalin) and others – both in ameliorating symptoms of patients with low levels of certain neurotransmitters ( leading to defects in functions like decision making) and as possible “performance enhancers” in “ normal individuals. The ethics issues of such actions are reviewed - albeit briefly and very much from a “sitting on the fence” standpoint. Will such drugs become “controlled” much in the way that substances used by athletes to enhance performance are subject to strict control if not outright banning? There is almost a “Brave New World” feeling to some of the discussions – is it right or wrong to enhance the body / brain beyond the normal capabilities?
Surprisingly the history of stimulant drug use (e.g. Amphetamine - Benzedrine – throughout WWII until recreational misuse caused ALL these drugs to be reined in) is not covered. Ritalin has also been used for ca 50 years as ADHD treatments (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder) as well as certain treatment of certain criminal tendencies.
The next generation drug Modafinil is claimed to be free of the possible negatives of Ritalin amphetamine – particularly for soldiers and workers combating sleep deprivation .The authors also claim enhanced cognitive abilities – particularly decision making - for this drug with healthy volunteers.
I found this all a stimulating introduction to this field of neurosciences (I have been more than a passing interest, having been involved in drug design at University, albeit some 40years ago and NOT in the areas of brain chemistry) .Whilst this book covers areas of the key areas of the authors research there are others I have seen where the revisiting of the controlled use of LSD and cannabis extracts have also been proposed for treating “defect” conditions of the brain. Shame that so many opportunities have been lost in the criminalisation of certain drug types resulting from substance abuse / addiction potential.
An active area for further research I think. Give it 4 stars for effort trying to cover a very complex subject in a brief, but intelligible way.
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VINE VOICEon 6 August 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Great book for any medical person or even an interested one. Well written and full of useful information
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on 8 July 2013
The quality of our decisions determines to a large extent what we are. "Bad Moves" is an incisive book about the neuroscience behind decision making and the question if we can improve decisions through drugs that enhance cognition. Sahakian and LaBuzetta use patients with dementias, depression, mania and phobias as examples of poor decision making. Plato, in his dialogue "Phaedrus", describes the soul as a charioteer with two winged horses. We can think of the two horses as representing rational and emotional decision making, respectively. The charioteer is driven by the horses, while having to stop them from going their own ways. This book centres around the location of "cold" or rational decision making in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and of "hot" or emotional decision making in the orbital prefrontal cortex. Where this leaves the soul in terms of brain anatomy remains to be seen. After dealing with decision-making mechanisms in the brain, Sahakian and LaBuzetta turn their attention to cognitive enhancers. If drugs that treat cognitive disorders can help people without these disorders to make better decisions, should they be made available? It appears likely that these drugs will be used, because much is at stake for the individual.
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on 17 October 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Most people will have noticed that when they're on a high, ideas come faster as mental alertness is enhanced. When an individual is suffering from anxiety or is in a manic state, then 'pressure of thought' comes into play, and creates competing thoughts in an individual's head leading to aloss of clarity.

This important and extremely interesting book describes how a 'normal' individual or mind state functions and how decisions are reached and implemented, then takes a look at how thought processes can become fragmented, disjointed or sluggish when individuals suffers from one of a wide range of mental health issues.

The impact of modern 'smart' drugs on these conditions are examined and explained, leading the way for hopefully even more focussed and efficatious, even 'smarter' drugs in the future.

Strongly recommended not only to the layman, but also to anyone involved in the mental health industry.
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VINE VOICEon 11 October 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a book that does so much. The real problem is that it's tried to cover two topics (decision-making, and smart drugs) which don't sit well together and therefore it hasn't given enough depth to either one or the other.

Sahakian & Labuzetta's experience and knowledge clearly shows throughout. The book is well-referenced (although as a question of style the endnotes and references could be better distinguished) and most interesting. I was slightly scared to read about modafinil and its off-label uses, but I suppose it's a world of go go go and people want to make the most of every second.

I think "intriguing" is a good summary in a word of the book as a whole but you could be forgiven for substituting "jarring" or "incomplete" – I suppose the best of all books leave you wanting more!
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