Early studies of the human brain used a simple method: wait for misfortune to strike strokes, seizures, infectious diseases, horrendous accidents and see how victims coped. In many cases their survival was miraculous, if puzzling. Observers were amazed by the transformations that took place when different parts of the brain were destroyed, altering victims' personalities. Parents suddenly couldn't recognize their own children. Pillars of the community became pathological liars. Some people couldn't speak but could still sing.
In The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons, Sam Kean travels through time with stories of neurological curiosities: phantom limbs, Siamese twin brains, viruses that eat patients' memories, blind people who see through their tongues. He weaves these narratives together with prose that makes the pages fly by, to create a story of discovery that reaches back to the 1500s and the high-profile jousting accident that inspired this book's title.
With the lucid, masterful explanations and razor-sharp wit his fans have come to expect, Kean explores the brain's secret passageways and recounts the forgotten tales of the ordinary people whose struggles, resilience, and deep humanity made neuroscience possible.
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|Publisher:||Little, Brown and Company|
|Product dimensions:||8.20(w) x 5.40(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
The Disappearing Spoon was a runner-up for the Royal Society of London's book of the year for 2010, and The Violinist's Thumb and The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons were nominated for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award in 2013 and 2015, as well as the AAAS/Subaru SB&F prize.
His work has appeared in the Best American Nature and Science Writing, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the New York Times Magazine, Psychology Today, Slate, Mental Floss, and other publications, and he has been featured on NPR's "Radiolab," "All Things Considered," and "Fresh Air."
Table of Contents
Part I Gross Anatomy
Chapter 1 The Dueling Neurosurgeons 17
Part II Cells, Senses, Circuits
Chapter 2 The Assassin's Soup 43
Chapter 3 Wiring and Rewiring 73
Chapter 4 Facing Brain Damage 99
Part III Body and Brain
Chapter 5 The Brain's Motor 129
Chapter 6 The Laughing Disease 155
Chapter 7 Sex and Punishment 183
Part IV Beliefs and Delusions
Chapter 8 The Sacred Disease 215
Chapter 9 "Sleights of Mind" 241
Part V Consciousness
Chapter 10 Honest Lying 267
Chapter 11 Left, Right, and Center 299
Chapter 12 The Man, the Myth, the Legend 329
Notes and Miscellanea 359
Works Cited 383
Reading Group Guide 409