The Naked Brain: How the Emerging Neurosociety Is Changing How We Live, Work and Love

Richard M. Restak, Author . Harmony $23 (255p) ISBN 978-1-4000-9808-8

No brain is an island—so argues neurologist and writer Restak (The New Brain ) in his latest book, which aims to synthesize emerging research on what he calls "social neuroscience," which examines the relationship between the social lives of human beings and the physical structure of our brains. Much of this research indicates that we're hard-wired to relate to other people, from the new mother who instinctively recognizes the cry of her infant to the twinge of empathy we feel when we see a lost stranger. Restak proposes that we can use this knowledge to understand our own behavior (a jilted lover, for example, feels an attachment and craving for his departed ex because the memory of her quite literally causes brain activity in the regions that control both pleasure and addiction) and potentially even control it (Buddhist monks seem to be able to rewire and enhance their brain activity through meditation). In the end, it's a bit unclear whether Restak wants to be a dispassionate observer of the scientific landscape or a more activist polemicist—the book closes with the claim that "by learning as much as we can about [social neuroscience], we will be in a position to resist manipulation by ads, pop culture, political spin, movies and television... social neuroscience can provide us a path towards... personal and collective liberation." Either way, this book offers a fascinating glimpse into how our brains are built. (Sept. 26)

Reviewed on: 06/19/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
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