Last update: November 17, 2023
Reading time: 1 minute
By Brain Matters

"An extraordinary journey through the world's strangest brains"

by Helen Thomson

Neuroscience has learned a lot from people with abnormal brains. Consider the classic example of Phineas Gage who got an iron rod through his frontal cortex, which completely changed his personality. In the book "Unthinkable", you will meet 9 people from the present day who also have fascinating brains we can learn a lot from.

While reading this book, you get to listen in like a fly on the wall to Helen, the author of this book, engaging with people who are different from most people. She sits down with nine people who have (had) very unique neurological disorders. Sharon, for instance, has no "inner map" and is therefore constantly lost. Sylvia hears music all day long as an auditory hallucination. In others, one might rather call their unusual brain a gift, as with Joel who literally adopts the feelings of others, or Bob, a man who can literally remember every day of his life. 

Besides getting to know these individuals and how they cope with their unique brain, you also learn the neuroscientific background of how the brain works and how different disorders can arise. But science does not yet have the answer to everything. I quote:

"If the brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn't."

In short, a highly recommended read for anyone interested in brains and people. Whether you have been involved in neuroscience for years, or are just new to this field, this book is a pleasure to read.

Author: Pauline van Gils

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