Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life

Written by:
Steven Johnson
Narrated by:
Alan Sklar

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
August 2004
8 hours 9 minutes

Using a mix of experiential reportage, personal storytelling, and fresh scientific discovery, Steven Johnson describes how the brain works - its chemicals, structures, and subroutines - and how these systems connect to the day-to-day realities of individual lives. For a hundred years, he says, many of us have assumed that the most powerful route to self-knowledge took the form of lying on a couch, talking about our childhoods. The possibility entertained in this book is that you can follow another path, in which learning about the brain's mechanics can widen one's self-awareness as powerfully as any therapy or meditation or drug.

In Mind Wide Open, Johnson embarks on this path as his own test subject, participating in a battery of attention tests, learning to control video games by altering his brain waves, scanning his own brain with a $2 million fMRI machine, all in search of a modern answer to the oldest of questions: who am I?

Along the way, Johnson explores how we 'read' other people, how the brain processes frightening events (and how we might rid ourselves of the scars those memories leave), what the neurochemistry is behind love and sex, what it means that our brains are teeming with powerful chemicals closely related to recreational drugs, why music moves us to tears, and where our breakthrough ideas come from.

Johnson's clear, engaging explanation of the physical functions of the brain reveals not only the broad strokes of our aptitudes and fears, our skills and weaknesses and desires, but also the momentary brain phenomena that a whole human life comprises. Why, when hearing a tale of woe, do we sometimes smile inappropriately, even if we don't want to? Why are some of us so bad at remembering phone numbers but brilliant at recognizing faces? Why does depression make us feel stupid?

To read Mind Wide Open is to rethink family histories, individual fates, and the very nature of the self, and to see that brain science is now personally transformative - a valuable tool for better relationships and better living.n the country...

There is some really interesting information in this book, but it could easily be presented in 30 minutes. It is agonizing to listen to so much fluff and filler. For every minute of actual content, you will get to listen to fifteen minutes of egocentric anecdotes and irritating conversation. Want to know about Steven Johnson’s nervous habits? What to hear about Steven Johnson’s friends? Want a description of Steven Johnson sweating? You will get it, here. The information is so good, and the fluff is so bad - It’s almost worth renting… But don’t.

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Bonnie Messinger

Fascinating! I listed to the whole set three times! Well read.

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Mark Rose

Mind wide open also discovers the cure for insomia - just try to listen to this entire series! The actual content was interesting, and it teases out many ways that the physical mind effects everyday moods, feelings, and how your body feels and works. However, for each major piece of subject matter, you have to wade through mountains of pontifications and stretched metaphors. But wait, there is more: The person who narrates has managed to brilliantly manufacture "boredom", and relay it via human voice. It was so monotonous, that I found myself daydreaming at least 50% of the time.

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Ruth Rogers

This was an interesting journey through the neurophysiology of the brain -- very informative, if you're the type who wants to know more about how your brain works and what makes you feel and do some of the things you do. Definitely worth a listen!

Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life
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