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Brains on the edge of experience

by Evan | Dec 05, 2018

UnthinkableI just finished a "romantic science" book, or at least that's how author Helen Thomson describes her recently published Unthinkable: An Extraordinary Journey Through the World's Strangest Brains. She calls it that, because instead of focusing on scientists and their research, she introduces the reader to unusual people who are the subjects of scientific study. 

The book is about nine people whose brains operate in very strange ways. One person literally feels what he sees other people feeling. Another thinks he is a tiger. A third perceives colors around people, colors that change as he gets to know their personalities better. A fourth person went around for years believing he was dead.

The book has ample scientific information about each case, but the heart of it is Thomson getting to know these rare individuals. Some of the conversations are comfortable, some disquieting, or even scary. The interview with the "tiger" had to be discontinued when it just felt too dangerous. 

What Thomson wants readers to understand is that her subjects' minds are extreme but not utterly disconnected from the rest of us. Many of us have personality quirks, visions or persistent thoughts. She celebrates that there is so much interesting variety and capability in our brains. 

If you would like a warm, informative read about amazing mental lives, check out Unthinkable.


EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.

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