A User's Guide to the Brain: Personality, Behavior and the Four Theaters of the Brain

A User's Guide to the Brain: Personality, Behavior and the Four Theaters of the Brain

by John J. Ratey M.D.
     
 

"For the first time ever, discoveries in our understanding of the brain are changing anthropology, linguistics, philosophy, and psychology - indeed, the brain itself may become a catalyst for transforming the very nature of these inquiries, In A User's Guide to the Brain, Dr. John Ratey, explains in lucid detail and with perfect clarity the basic structure and…  See more details below

Overview

"For the first time ever, discoveries in our understanding of the brain are changing anthropology, linguistics, philosophy, and psychology - indeed, the brain itself may become a catalyst for transforming the very nature of these inquiries, In A User's Guide to the Brain, Dr. John Ratey, explains in lucid detail and with perfect clarity the basic structure and chemistry of the brain: how its systems shape our perceptions, emotions, actions, and reactions; how possession of this knowledge can enable us to more fully understand and improve our lives; and how the brain responds to the guidance of its user. He draws on examples from his own practice, from research, and from everyday life to illuminate aspects of the brain's functioning, among them prenatal and early childhood development; the perceptual systems; the processes of consciousness, memory, emotion, and language; and the social brain." "As the best means for explaining the dynamic interactions of the brain, Ratey offers as a metaphor the four "theaters" of exploration; 1) the act of perception; 2) the filters of attention, consciousness, and cognition; 3) the array of options employed by the brain - memory, emotion, language, movement - to transform information into function; and 4) behavior and identity. Ratey succeeds not only in giving us a compelling portrait of the brain's infinite flexibility and unpredictability but also in demonstrating how our very understanding of the brain affects who we are."--BOOK JACKET.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
New developments in brain research seem to be constantly announced these days, so a competent description of the latest results for the lay reader is always welcome. Ratey, a specialist in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, organizes his material by functional category--development, perception, attention, memory, emotion, language, and socialization. The "Four Theaters" of the subtitle don't appear until the penultimate chapter, where the metaphor is confusingly mixed with that of the brain as a river. The final chapter, "Care and Feeding," makes the expected suggestions for keeping the brain sharp: physical and mental exercise, good nutrition, and the positive impact of spirituality on mental health. Pierce J. Howard's The Owner's Manual for the Brain: Everyday Applications from Mind-Brain Research (Bard Pr., 2000. 2d ed.) is a better choice, although A User's Guide would be an acceptable addition for larger public libraries.--Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, WA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Grab your nearest neuroanatomy text: this user's guide plots myriad courses through the brain's tracks and stations as Ratey (Psychiatry/Harvard Medical School) delivers the latest word on the underpinnings of perception, emotion, memory, thought, and other mental qualities. Ratey makes it clear that the more researchers learn, the more complicated and exciting the territory of the brain becomes. It's not too much to say that everything connects here: parts of the brain long thought to be primarily concerned with movement and coordination—like the cerebellum and the basal ganglia—are now seen to be connected to cognition and perception, for example. These new findings stem from clinical studies and techniques of neuroimaging, genetics, and biochemistry. The emphasis on the inseparability of thought, emotion, and behavior is the major take-home message. Occasionally the writing is careless ("The day an infant is conceived it begins to perceive the external world, and also becomes aware of its own internal states, such as hunger"), and sometimes it seems directed too narrowly at the author's colleagues. Ratey's synopses of all things brainy leads him in the end to a concept of "four theaters of the mind," which, to use another metaphor, he describes as tributaries to a river of the mind. The river begins with perception, flows through attention/ consciousness/cognition, is acted upon by the third theater of brain functions (such as language and social ability), and finally empties into the fourth theater—the identity and behavior of the perceiver. Of course, there is an upstream flow as well. Ratey plumps for this concept to be more widely used in psychiatry, whichtends to focus purely on affect, paying little attention, for example, to how a patient perceives the world. Overall, Ratey is a conscientious guide, pointing out the intricate routes by which human brains navigate behavior. Just remember: the map is only this year's topography, subject to change and correction.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679453093
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/09/2001
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
6.52(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.29(d)

Read an Excerpt

John Ratey, bestselling author and clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, here lucidly explains the human brain’s workings, and paves the way for a better understanding of how the brain affects who we are. Ratey provides insight into the basic structure and chemistry of the brain, and demonstrates how its systems shape our perceptions, emotions, and behavior. By giving us a greater understanding of how the brain responds to the guidance of its user, he provides us with knowledge that can enable us to improve our lives.

In A User’s Guide to the Brain, Ratey clearly and succinctly surveys what scientists now know about the brain and how we use it. He looks at the brain as a malleable organ capable of improvement and change, like any muscle, and examines the way specific motor functions might be applied to overcome neural disorders ranging from everyday shyness to autism. Drawing on examples from his practice and from everyday life, Ratey illustrates that the most important lesson we can learn about our brains is how to use them to their maximum potential.

Meet the Author

John J. Ratey, M.D., is associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is the co-author of Driven to Distraction, Answers to Distraction, and Shadow Syndromes. He lives in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

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