cover image The Disordered Mind: What Unusual Brains Tell Us About Ourselves

The Disordered Mind: What Unusual Brains Tell Us About Ourselves

Eric R. Kandel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30 (336p) ISBN 978-0-374-28786-3

Nobel Prize–winning-neuroscientist Kandel (Reduction in Art and Brain Science) delves optimistically into the current state of the “new biology of mind,” a sophisticated framework deriving from “the marriage of modern cognitive psychology and neuroscience.” Kandel consolidates data and ideas from core advances, including genetic research that proves some biological basis for various psychiatric disorders, and imaging techniques that indicate the function of specific brain structures. Emphasizing that brain disorders can yield insights into normal cognitive functioning, he looks to autism for understanding the social brain, depression and bipolar disorders for understanding the emotional brain, schizophrenia for understanding decision making, dementia for understanding memory, and Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease for understanding movement. His background as coauthor of the flagship textbook Principles of Neural Science is clear throughout, thanks to the highly accessible presentation, heavy on reader-friendly graphics and explanations of basics. Kandel’s deep compassion for people is also evident, as when he discusses how understanding the biological basis for mental disorders might take them out of the realm of legal culpability. The result of his work is an easily comprehended, meticulous synthesis of current research into the biological grounding of the human mind. 77 color and b&w illus. (Aug.)