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The Disordered Mind: What Unusual Brains Tell Us About Ourselves

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A Nobel Prize–winning neuroscientist’s probing investigation of what brain disorders can tell us about human nature Eric R. Kandel, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his foundational research into memory storage in the brain, is one of the pioneers of modern brain science. His work continues to shape our understanding of how learning and memory wor A Nobel Prize–winning neuroscientist’s probing investigation of what brain disorders can tell us about human nature Eric R. Kandel, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his foundational research into memory storage in the brain, is one of the pioneers of modern brain science. His work continues to shape our understanding of how learning and memory work and to break down age-old barriers between the sciences and the arts. In his seminal new book, The Disordered Mind, Kandel draws on a lifetime of pathbreaking research and the work of many other leading neuroscientists to take us on an unusual tour of the brain. He confronts one of the most difficult questions we face: How does our mind, our individual sense of self, emerge from the physical matter of the brain? The brain’s 86 billion neurons communicate with one another through very precise connections. But sometimes those connections are disrupted. The brain processes that give rise to our mind can become disordered, resulting in diseases such as autism, depression, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder. While these disruptions bring great suffering, they can also reveal the mysteries of how the brain produces our most fundamental experiences and capabilities—the very nature of what it means to be human. Studies of autism illuminate the neurological foundations of our social instincts; research into depression offers important insights on emotions and the integrity of the self; and paradigm-shifting work on addiction has led to a new understanding of the relationship between pleasure and willpower. By studying disruptions to typical brain functioning and exploring their potential treatments, we will deepen our understanding of thought, feeling, behavior, memory, and creativity. Only then can we grapple with the big question of how billions of neurons generate consciousness itself.


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A Nobel Prize–winning neuroscientist’s probing investigation of what brain disorders can tell us about human nature Eric R. Kandel, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his foundational research into memory storage in the brain, is one of the pioneers of modern brain science. His work continues to shape our understanding of how learning and memory wor A Nobel Prize–winning neuroscientist’s probing investigation of what brain disorders can tell us about human nature Eric R. Kandel, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his foundational research into memory storage in the brain, is one of the pioneers of modern brain science. His work continues to shape our understanding of how learning and memory work and to break down age-old barriers between the sciences and the arts. In his seminal new book, The Disordered Mind, Kandel draws on a lifetime of pathbreaking research and the work of many other leading neuroscientists to take us on an unusual tour of the brain. He confronts one of the most difficult questions we face: How does our mind, our individual sense of self, emerge from the physical matter of the brain? The brain’s 86 billion neurons communicate with one another through very precise connections. But sometimes those connections are disrupted. The brain processes that give rise to our mind can become disordered, resulting in diseases such as autism, depression, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder. While these disruptions bring great suffering, they can also reveal the mysteries of how the brain produces our most fundamental experiences and capabilities—the very nature of what it means to be human. Studies of autism illuminate the neurological foundations of our social instincts; research into depression offers important insights on emotions and the integrity of the self; and paradigm-shifting work on addiction has led to a new understanding of the relationship between pleasure and willpower. By studying disruptions to typical brain functioning and exploring their potential treatments, we will deepen our understanding of thought, feeling, behavior, memory, and creativity. Only then can we grapple with the big question of how billions of neurons generate consciousness itself.

30 review for The Disordered Mind: What Unusual Brains Tell Us About Ourselves

  1. 4 out of 5

    Corvus

    Goodreads removed my post for mentioning that Kandel is an animal abuser- a fact that is available in the book and online. I included a link to his current publications in which he causes pain and terror in mammals conveniently left out of his bio. I mentioned that I was unaware of him being an animal exploiter and abuser when signing up for the giveaway. I didn't mention I worked in neuroscience myself before becoming disabled. Am I allowed to have an opinion about how this man subjects noncons Goodreads removed my post for mentioning that Kandel is an animal abuser- a fact that is available in the book and online. I included a link to his current publications in which he causes pain and terror in mammals conveniently left out of his bio. I mentioned that I was unaware of him being an animal exploiter and abuser when signing up for the giveaway. I didn't mention I worked in neuroscience myself before becoming disabled. Am I allowed to have an opinion about how this man subjects nonconsenting animals to pain and suffering for his own interests books now? I assume the publisher or author didn't actually want an honest review from the people they are giving out their goodreads giveaway copies to. Well, now it gets 1 star. Doesn't look like anyone else likes it much either.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    The Disordered Mind by Eric R. Kandel is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early August. You get the impression that, throughout this book, disorder is abnormal or there’s a baseline that everyone operates on and that there’s a select amount of people that are 'defective' with schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, dementia, PTSD, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and autism. Amid these conceptions, Kandel goes into neurological and cognitive findings, treatments, and patient disclosures, after telling The Disordered Mind by Eric R. Kandel is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early August. You get the impression that, throughout this book, disorder is abnormal or there’s a baseline that everyone operates on and that there’s a select amount of people that are 'defective' with schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, dementia, PTSD, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and autism. Amid these conceptions, Kandel goes into neurological and cognitive findings, treatments, and patient disclosures, after telling of the origins/history of the aforementioned conditions.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    Received a review copy in exchange for my review. I wish I could leave a better one. The book is full of animal testing and psychiatric binaries of sick and well. It lacks an ethical framework in its treatment of humans and nonhuman animals necessary for the subject. There is some decent knowledge but not much that is new. I would not recommend this book to the layman or to someone with a background in psychology or neuroscience.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ania Holubecki

    Good book for an overview, especially for those not in the field! Appreciated how Kandel would redefine concepts and terms as they came up instead of forcing readers to remember them from before. Also liked how the chapters were organized by processes that make up our mind, paired with disorders that result from abnormalities in those processes.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Melise Gerber

    I read an ARC from NetGalley and Farrah, Straus And Giroux. Thanks! I am always interested in reading about the intersection of brain physiology and psychology/behavior. This book was a great overview of some of the most recent discoveries that shed light on physiological findings within the brains of people who have a number of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia or Huntington’s, who suffer from depression or anxiety, or who experience life in non-neurotypical ways, includi I read an ARC from NetGalley and Farrah, Straus And Giroux. Thanks! I am always interested in reading about the intersection of brain physiology and psychology/behavior. This book was a great overview of some of the most recent discoveries that shed light on physiological findings within the brains of people who have a number of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia or Huntington’s, who suffer from depression or anxiety, or who experience life in non-neurotypical ways, including people with autism or gender nonconformity. The author did a good job of clearly explaining these complex scientific issues for a lay reader and I, like the author find it very interesting how seemingly unrelated symptoms can be caused by similar physiological changes in the brain, such as the role that synaptic pruning plays in both schizophrenia and autism. The one element that seemed to be missing for me, however, was a stronger synthesis and suggestions about where these findings might lead in the future. There was a bit of this in the conclusion, but I would have liked to have read more. All in all, a good overview that helped me understand current discoveries in brain functioning.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    I won this book on Goodreads. This book is fascinating, the topics include Alzheimer's, gender identity, Parkinson's, PTSD, bipolar, schizophrenia, autism and several other disorders. It may not be of interest to all readers but those who may find it interesting are readers who are curious about medicine, psychology, and science. I am involved in those fields so the studies interest me a great deal. This book covers genes and chromosomes which show how some of the same genes (duplication or dele I won this book on Goodreads. This book is fascinating, the topics include Alzheimer's, gender identity, Parkinson's, PTSD, bipolar, schizophrenia, autism and several other disorders. It may not be of interest to all readers but those who may find it interesting are readers who are curious about medicine, psychology, and science. I am involved in those fields so the studies interest me a great deal. This book covers genes and chromosomes which show how some of the same genes (duplication or deletion, mutations) causes certain risks for disorders. A worthwhile read and the book is of high quality.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    This book does not pretend to be a comprehensive treatise on brain disorders. It is more like a multi-course tasting menu of interesting topics in cognitive neuroscience and should be savored as such.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Derek Davis

    Always like Kandel, from his textbooks to his personal revelations (the latter more so). As a rundown of the status of neuroscience today, this deserves a fifth star. He presents the material beautifully, so that even when technical terms (such as particular areas of the brain) are tossed in without full definition, the whole still carries you along with superb clarity. My only reservation is his stance that certain mechanisms of the brain have been firmly established, when, from what I've read e Always like Kandel, from his textbooks to his personal revelations (the latter more so). As a rundown of the status of neuroscience today, this deserves a fifth star. He presents the material beautifully, so that even when technical terms (such as particular areas of the brain) are tossed in without full definition, the whole still carries you along with superb clarity. My only reservation is his stance that certain mechanisms of the brain have been firmly established, when, from what I've read elsewhere, that's not necessarily the case. He's a staunch materialist (as am I), but I wonder if it doesn't make him want to believe that the neural and genetic foundations of the conditions he describes, such as Alzheimer’s, are solidly established and incontrovertible (are amyloid beta deposits definitely a cause of Alzheimer’s or a result or an association?). But it's as good an up-to-date look at the state of neurophysics in the brain as you'll find anywhere. I gained a lot of new insights (for instance, that my cat has likely damage to the lateral nucleus of his amygdala – and here I thought he was just nuts).

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    I found this book very disappointing. There wasn't a lot that was new. The subtitle, "What Unusual Brains Tell Us About Ourselves," makes a promise that is unfulfilled. He never says what disorders like Alzheimer's, addiction, autism, schizophrenia, etc. tell us about normal brains (except that they don't have these disorders). He has little to say about consciousness, and how it relates to brain activity, except to say that it's a mystery. When he discusses addiction, he mixes science with norm I found this book very disappointing. There wasn't a lot that was new. The subtitle, "What Unusual Brains Tell Us About Ourselves," makes a promise that is unfulfilled. He never says what disorders like Alzheimer's, addiction, autism, schizophrenia, etc. tell us about normal brains (except that they don't have these disorders). He has little to say about consciousness, and how it relates to brain activity, except to say that it's a mystery. When he discusses addiction, he mixes science with normative claims (like how important it is not to stigmatize addicts as weak-willed). He thinks we know that addiction is a disease because the brain scans of addicts are different from non-addicts. Has anyone scanned the brains of weak-willed persons? Maybe their brains are different too. Kandel is no Oliver Sacks.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Good overview of current understanding of the brain and its disorders. Key points for me: emotion is not an obstacle but the key to healthy decisionmaking; nicotine is a gateway drug in how it primes brain for addiction (not marijuana!), and sexual differentiation of genitalia happens during early pregnancy while sexual differences of brain emerge in the later half, meaning that a disconnect could happen during that time.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Xavier Morales

    Being an Industrial-Organizational Psychology student, I was familiar with the content Kandell presents here, but not entirely savvy of the intricacies of mental disorder. I was mostly interested in the decision making portions of the book. In general, I think this book is a good overview of the topics it covers.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Danny

    One of the best psychology books I have ever read. It goes into great detail about each disorder and how each disorder affects the person's life. It is a well-written book and it's not surprising when you learn the author wrote a Nobel peace prize. It really shows in his writing.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Abe

    Thought this was a great update for someone who has not kept abreast of the research. Wondered why he did not mention the current neurobiological research on learned helplessness. Clearly relevant to depression. Wonder how selective he is being about the research he cites.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Authentikate

    A clinical review of recent research and scientific data. Very well researched and referenced. Perhaps not the most lay person friendly but it attempted to be widely assessable. Thanks to NetGalley and publisher for ARC in exchange for review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    William

    Easy access to the latest discoveries in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's and other diseases of the mind rising from badly folded proteins in the neurons.

  16. 4 out of 5

    P A Adamson

    A good read. Nice level of technical detail. Very interesting.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ester

    Excellent

  18. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    The last chapter on consciousness wasn't as riveting as the rest of the book, but I find brain science fascinating.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gaby Chapman

    Current science on various dysfunctions of the human brain.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alan Sokolov

  21. 4 out of 5

    Geert Claassens

  22. 4 out of 5

    Julison

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn French

  24. 4 out of 5

    Julian

  25. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Phelps

  26. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Sullivan

  27. 5 out of 5

    Masada

  28. 4 out of 5

    Adam Di Filippe

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  30. 4 out of 5

    The Romantic Cowboy

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