Creating Mind: How the Brain Works

John E. Dowling, Author
John E. Dowling, Author W. W. Norton & Company $24.95 (212p) ISBN 978-0-393-02746-4
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
In this compact volume, Dowling, a Harvard biologist specializing in vision, explains how the human brain is structured, how it processes and stores information and how it occasionally malfunctions, while discussing its evolutionary roots. Topics as diverse as developmental biology, mental illness, the aging process, the biochemical basis of emotions, spinal cord injuries and the nature of optical illusions are touched upon, as are a range of current and projected treatments for disorders of the nervous system. Although Dowling's didactic style of posing questions to be answered wears a bit thin, a good deal of information is presented in a form largely accessible to the lay reader. While perhaps not surprising given his specialty, Dowling spends a disproportionate amount of time on the intricacies of the visual system while largely ignoring the other senses. Also omitted is any discussion of recent work examining structural differences in the brain between the sexes as well as correlational research suggesting possible links between brain configuration and homosexuality. Nonetheless, Dowling provides a competent introduction to the quickly developing field of neuroscience. Photos and line drawings throughout. (Sept.)
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