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Projections: A Story of Human Emotions

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In this groundbreaking tour of the human mind, a renowned psychiatrist and neuroscientist explores the biological and evolutionary origins of human emotions through poignant, and at times shocking, clinical stories. Karl Deisseroth has spent his life pursuing truths about the human mind, both as a practicing clinical psychiatrist and as a researcher who created the revoluti In this groundbreaking tour of the human mind, a renowned psychiatrist and neuroscientist explores the biological and evolutionary origins of human emotions through poignant, and at times shocking, clinical stories. Karl Deisseroth has spent his life pursuing truths about the human mind, both as a practicing clinical psychiatrist and as a researcher who created the revolutionary field of optogenetics, which allows us to decipher the brain's inner workings using light. In Projections, he combines his groundbreaking access to the brain's inner circuitry with a deep empathy for his patients to examine what mental illness reveals about the mind and the origin of human feelings--how the broken can illuminate the unbroken. An internationally acclaimed professor of bioengineering and psychiatry at Stanford, Deisseroth's true passion is clinical psychiatry, and it is the stories of his patients that form the backbone of Projections. Through these case studies, he tells the larger story of how we can understand the physical and biological origins of human emotion in the brain. As such, he describes vividly how humans experience feelings both in the simple and ancient circuits of our brains and in the poignant moments of suffering in our daily lives. The stories of Deisseroth's patients are rich with humanity and shine an unprecedented light on the self and the ways in which it breaks down. A young woman with an eating disorder reveals how the mind can rebel against the brain's most primitive drives of hunger and thirst; while an older gentleman, smothered into silence by depression and dementia, illuminates how humans evolved to feel joy and its absence; and a lonely Uyghur woman far from home teaches the importance of rich social bonds. An illuminating and essential work, Projections transforms the way we understand the brain as a biological and as an emotional object.


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In this groundbreaking tour of the human mind, a renowned psychiatrist and neuroscientist explores the biological and evolutionary origins of human emotions through poignant, and at times shocking, clinical stories. Karl Deisseroth has spent his life pursuing truths about the human mind, both as a practicing clinical psychiatrist and as a researcher who created the revoluti In this groundbreaking tour of the human mind, a renowned psychiatrist and neuroscientist explores the biological and evolutionary origins of human emotions through poignant, and at times shocking, clinical stories. Karl Deisseroth has spent his life pursuing truths about the human mind, both as a practicing clinical psychiatrist and as a researcher who created the revolutionary field of optogenetics, which allows us to decipher the brain's inner workings using light. In Projections, he combines his groundbreaking access to the brain's inner circuitry with a deep empathy for his patients to examine what mental illness reveals about the mind and the origin of human feelings--how the broken can illuminate the unbroken. An internationally acclaimed professor of bioengineering and psychiatry at Stanford, Deisseroth's true passion is clinical psychiatry, and it is the stories of his patients that form the backbone of Projections. Through these case studies, he tells the larger story of how we can understand the physical and biological origins of human emotion in the brain. As such, he describes vividly how humans experience feelings both in the simple and ancient circuits of our brains and in the poignant moments of suffering in our daily lives. The stories of Deisseroth's patients are rich with humanity and shine an unprecedented light on the self and the ways in which it breaks down. A young woman with an eating disorder reveals how the mind can rebel against the brain's most primitive drives of hunger and thirst; while an older gentleman, smothered into silence by depression and dementia, illuminates how humans evolved to feel joy and its absence; and a lonely Uyghur woman far from home teaches the importance of rich social bonds. An illuminating and essential work, Projections transforms the way we understand the brain as a biological and as an emotional object.

30 review for Projections: A Story of Human Emotions

  1. 5 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

    Dr. Karl Deisseroth is a Renaissance man: He is a psychiatrist with a special interest in autism and treatment-resistant depression; he has a Ph.D. in neuroscience; and he is a professor of bioengineering at Stanford, where he spends much of his time running a lab. His interactions with patients who are challenged by a range of psychiatric or neurological issues raise provocative questions and inform his work in the lab. He’s also a lover of literature, which he regards as important for “underst Dr. Karl Deisseroth is a Renaissance man: He is a psychiatrist with a special interest in autism and treatment-resistant depression; he has a Ph.D. in neuroscience; and he is a professor of bioengineering at Stanford, where he spends much of his time running a lab. His interactions with patients who are challenged by a range of psychiatric or neurological issues raise provocative questions and inform his work in the lab. He’s also a lover of literature, which he regards as important for “understanding patients” and which can “at times provid[e] a window into the brain [that is] more informative than any microscopic objective.” Deisseroth is a proponent of cross-fertilization between disciplines—the humanities, engineering, and various scientific fields. Ideas and influences from unexpected directions can be transformative, he says, and if science is too biased towards solving disease-related questions, innovation is curtailed. Projections reflects its polymathic author’s philosophy. It’s a rich, fascinating, and exciting amalgam of stories of patients with particular psychiatric diseases and symptoms, including mania, paranoia, multi-infarct dementia, autism, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, and depressive illness. The narratives are offered with the view that the broken can provide insight into the unbroken—abnormal function helps us understand what is normal. Deisseroth’s book also contains elements of personal memoir and scientific expository writing about genetics, evolution, and the role that a technology called optogenetics can play in exposing the complex neural circuitry and components involved in certain emotional states and diseases. Unlike other medical specialists who can use a range of diagnostics—including blood work and imaging—to home in on and identify disease, psychiatrists are reliant on patient history and clinical presentation. Deisseroth writes: “The challenge of trying to perceive and experience unconventional realities from the patient’s perspective is the heart of psychiatry, working through the distortions of both the observer and the observed.” To practise well, he intimates, psychiatrists have to have a measure of self-awareness. They must be careful not to over-identify with patients and be mindful not to ascribe their own emotions or experiences to those they are treating. Sometimes, however, psychiatric diagnoses can be reached when the clinician notes the feelings a patient evokes in him. For example, in dealing with borderline patients, who are “maestros” at eliciting emotion in others—bringing forth powerful positive or negative feelings that approach patients’ own intense states—Deisseroth has found it useful to be attentive to the “rising tingle” up his back “in that sensation of defensive rage that we feel in our skin when personal boundaries are violated.” Physicians are trained to see brains as biological objects. With psychiatric illnesses, however, the organ itself is not obviously damaged, and there are few explanations for why patients are suffering and what their diseases mean in a biological sense. A new technology called optogenetics (much of it developed in Deisseroth’s own Stanford bioengineering lab) is changing that. This technology allows scientists to see specific nerve cells firing as well as activity patterns in brain “circuits” created by the “projections”—the axons (extensions or threads)—of neurons across the brain. Optogenetics involves taking genes responsible for making light-responsive proteins from such microorganisms as ancient algae and delivering them to specific neurons in laboratory animals, usually mice. Amazingly, this genetic material can be carried to its target by a virus. Once it reaches the intended nerve cell, the microbial DNA provides instructions so that the mammalian neuron can now produce a light-sensitive protein called a rhodopsin. Later, scientists can administer laser light to the transformed neuron by means of thin flexible fibers of glass (fiber optics). The genetically-altered lab animal’s neuron fires in response to that light—it’s excited or inhibited. Throughout the process, the animal brain is left intact; researchers are able to study the components that give rise to neurological function without taking the system apart. Deisseroth’s team has also developed and employed another technology called hydrogel-tissue chemistry, which helps to turn the normally dense and opaque brain into a state which permits light to pass through freely. This allows high-resolution visualization of the physical components of certain brain functions and emotional states. Deisseroth explains early in his book that optogenetics technology has allowed scientists to learn that emotional states typically involve several brain areas. (Knowledge gained through this method may ultimately lead to treatments for afflictive states.) Anxiety, for example, begins in a region of the brain called the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), an extension of the amygdala (a part of the brain involved with experiencing emotion). Threads from the BNST radiate out and activate several other brain areas. One projection travels to the parabrachial nucleus in the pons, which is part of the brainstem. When activated, this area increases the breathing rate of an anxious individual. The risk aversion (fearful avoidance) we see in an anxious person is controlled by a different thread, one travelling from the BNST to the lateral hypothalamus. Finally, the negative feeling or “valence” associated with anxiety is handled by a third projection, which extends to the ventral tegmental area, a part of the mammalian brain’s reward-and-motivation network. Projections is organized around patient stories. Deisseroth walks the reader through the symptomatology of each condition, what is known about its genetics, and the ways in which optogenetics has shed light on what is going on. The author often considers the social context in which the patient’s illness has developed, whether it be the ruptured early family life of a borderline patient or the state-sponsored persecution of a patient from a Uyghur community in China. I appreciated his reminder that “nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution.” If something does not matter for survival, it disappears. It’s very possible, then, that what we now consider psychiatric illness once served a purpose. For example, the elevated state of being that we see in mania may have allowed some people to lead others in past times of existential threat; the euphoria of the manic individual may have uplifted and inspired his fellows. The decreased need for sleep, the abundant energy, and the intense commitment to projects may have served ancient societies well in times of migration or rebuilding. On the other hand, humans may have had periods during which the conservation of energy was critical for survival. The roots of depression may lie there. Deisseroth acknowledges that there are ethical concerns about how new technologies like optogenetics are used. Neuroscience can target specific cells and connections to make animals more or less aggressive, defensive, energetic, sexual, social, hungry, thirsty, or sleepy. To what extent might these findings ultimately be applied to transform dysfunctional or suffering humans? Which changes are socially and morally acceptable and which are not? Deisseroth opines that the scientific community has a duty to explain its work to the general public, who must become engaged in the discussions about how new neuroscientific technologies are applied. I am grateful to Random House for approving my Net Galley request for an early review copy of Karl Deisseroth’s book. It is one of the most stimulating works I’ve read in some time. I think other motivated readers interested in the workings of the brain will find it very rewarding, too.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Niko

    As much as I wanted to like it, Projections was a disappointing read. An aspiring physician, I have a deep admiration for Deisseroth’s work, especially his Nobel-worthy pioneering of optogenetics. His genius was never in question. The problem is with his prose. The book reads like a medical school personal statement whose author is trying too hard to impress the reader. In fact, I was concurrently reading George Soros’ notoriously difficult The Alchemy of Finance (a philosophical view of the mark As much as I wanted to like it, Projections was a disappointing read. An aspiring physician, I have a deep admiration for Deisseroth’s work, especially his Nobel-worthy pioneering of optogenetics. His genius was never in question. The problem is with his prose. The book reads like a medical school personal statement whose author is trying too hard to impress the reader. In fact, I was concurrently reading George Soros’ notoriously difficult The Alchemy of Finance (a philosophical view of the markets) and found it to be an easier read than Projections. If you’re interested in learning more about Deisseroth’s work, I instead recommend listening to Andrew Huberman’s podcast episode with Deisseroth. You’ll get a better sense of how Deisseroth thinks… and save a couple of hours.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ali Khaledi

    The book is something between an autobiography and stories of patients. I have ordered the book right after it came out, and I had high expectations, but honestly, I am a bit disappointed. I am a neuroscientist and my expectation was to have a book filled with cutting-edge science, instead, the book was more like talking to a friend after work. That being said, the book could be a great read for those who like to know a little bit about the life of a well-known researcher. In the neuroscience co The book is something between an autobiography and stories of patients. I have ordered the book right after it came out, and I had high expectations, but honestly, I am a bit disappointed. I am a neuroscientist and my expectation was to have a book filled with cutting-edge science, instead, the book was more like talking to a friend after work. That being said, the book could be a great read for those who like to know a little bit about the life of a well-known researcher. In the neuroscience community, we all expect Karl to win a Nobel prize for his great work.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Imaginarium

    This is one of the worst books I have ever read. Karl Deisseroth is a psychiatrist and a scientist actively working in the field of neuroscience. He introduced a method of using light to influence activity of certain types of neurons. Because of this I expected the book to be full of cutting-edge science, things I could not got from any other place, things that come fresh from the lab using a highly advanced method of looking at and controlling brain activity. Boy, was I wrong... The books is alm This is one of the worst books I have ever read. Karl Deisseroth is a psychiatrist and a scientist actively working in the field of neuroscience. He introduced a method of using light to influence activity of certain types of neurons. Because of this I expected the book to be full of cutting-edge science, things I could not got from any other place, things that come fresh from the lab using a highly advanced method of looking at and controlling brain activity. Boy, was I wrong... The books is almost entirely a collection of anecdotes. The problem is, there isn't really anything else beside that filler. I didn't care one bit about any of the patients. The author didn't make me care. Slapping a name on a case doesn't make you care. Reading how Deisseroth is torn by his emotions when relating to the patients doesn't make you care. The author doesn't know how to write a compelling story. Which is not unexpected — he's a medical doctor, not a story writer. But then again, what's the point of including them in the first place?... I don't know what the author was trying to accomplish with these anecdotes and the description of his emotional struggles with the fate of the patients. But the strongest impression I got was that the author needs therapy as he's really struggling with his emotions, with himself, and with his work. The book reads like a confession to a therapist rather than an educational work. There isn't much valuable information. Some of it is boring (a certain nerve controls movements of an eye), some of it is already common knowledge (memories are coded by connections between neurons). And there isn't anything more to it! No jaw-dropping curiosities, no unexpected discoveries. Instead of content we get a forced flowery language. The author really tried to act as a writer. But the sporadic poetic language is not a substitute for interesting content. I listened to the audio book read by the author himself. And this is yet another disappointment. Deisseroth doesn't have the skill, he's not a narrator. Instead, he is a sloth. I had to listen at 120% speed just to keep focus not to fall asleep. He makes weird pauses mid-sentence. The entire narration is weird and not natural. I had the impression that the author is constantly very, very sad. This was irritating... I had to force myself to finish the book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sylvie Barak

    There’s little doubt that Karl Deisseroth is a highly intelligent and eloquent neuroscientist and psychiatrist, but I found this book so overwrought, so flowery, and so desperately lacking in real human emotion. The words of emotion were there, but nothing landed. It just left me with an overwhelmingly depressed feeling throughout. It made me not want to read more of it after every completed chapter, but I persisted because it’s clearly advanced stuff in a field I’m passionate about. The client There’s little doubt that Karl Deisseroth is a highly intelligent and eloquent neuroscientist and psychiatrist, but I found this book so overwrought, so flowery, and so desperately lacking in real human emotion. The words of emotion were there, but nothing landed. It just left me with an overwhelmingly depressed feeling throughout. It made me not want to read more of it after every completed chapter, but I persisted because it’s clearly advanced stuff in a field I’m passionate about. The client narratives for the most part did not sound authentic…. They were far too “perfect” and it made me think that Deisseroth uses a lot of poetic license which I hope he doesn’t also impose on his actual patients. An overwhelming meh from me. For what that’s worth.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Miguel

    Muddled tome that the book jacket promises to “transform our understanding not only of the brain but of ourselves as social beings”. The writing style was trying way too hard to capture both emotion and science and not really succeeding very well in either direction and the mixing of testimonials came across as disjointed.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kayson Fakhar

    So I know the author because of his revolutionary tool called optogenetics. He is a capable scientist who in my mind, was a narrow-minded super-focused method-neuroscientist. This book showed me that he's actually very good at writing for the public and in my opinion, this book is far better than most of the neuroscience-based books I've read. It covers interesting topics and the transitions are very smooth so there's no hiccup between topics. It's full of detailed descriptions of how different So I know the author because of his revolutionary tool called optogenetics. He is a capable scientist who in my mind, was a narrow-minded super-focused method-neuroscientist. This book showed me that he's actually very good at writing for the public and in my opinion, this book is far better than most of the neuroscience-based books I've read. It covers interesting topics and the transitions are very smooth so there's no hiccup between topics. It's full of detailed descriptions of how different psychiatric patients feel and think. While it's scientifically rigorous, it also has a very romantic approach to many of the events and topics. Altogether, this will be one of the books I will for sure recommend to anyone who's interested in psychiatry, neuroscience, the human brain, and the human mind.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Gonzalez

    Beautifully written, incredibly inspiring.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bruce Graham

    Karl Diesseroth brought light to light, bringing light to the effects of light on brains. An intense investigation into memories, mental instabilities, patient care and optogenetic research. An unusual work because you can feel the tug of poetry, of literature, in his tales of patients. His empathy and sensitivity for his patients make a riveting read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Trpti Sanghvi

    A neuroscientist that can write is definitely my kryptonite.

  11. 4 out of 5

    jafamiz

    Parts of the book are already leaving me. this is why i should write thoughts straight after rather than a week later. the book did a lot of things for me. it made my thoughts really swirly. i realise that i often search for books that will have a similar effect on me. i want it to be a little mental spring board, where I start visualising and fantasizing about various aspects of my life. i wonder if that's what hope is. Actually, i start visualising all sorts of things, from relationships, to c Parts of the book are already leaving me. this is why i should write thoughts straight after rather than a week later. the book did a lot of things for me. it made my thoughts really swirly. i realise that i often search for books that will have a similar effect on me. i want it to be a little mental spring board, where I start visualising and fantasizing about various aspects of my life. i wonder if that's what hope is. Actually, i start visualising all sorts of things, from relationships, to current projects, to ambitions, to random images or made up things. one of the pictures i visualised was this immersive library room, where the shelves are digital and where, if i have a kid they can wander through it. somehow it is spatially categorised, but also the books are randomly generated. this has nothing to do with the book anyway, Deisseroth's book does this for me because his life is incredibly fascinating to me. I am currently in a similar lab, finding my feet in neuroscience, but it is possible that stories of psychiatry have always captured me more. i don't think i could really be a psychiatrist though. i thought the combinations of stories was very artfully told, and they interweaved and contrasted nicely. i thought that Deisseroth was more literary than me, and I thought the scenes were painted very artful, the pieces of dialogue that are chosen paint the characters well. Deisseroth said this book was something like 20 years in the making, and perhaps, this is my favourite kind of book. i like books that immerse me in the windy way life can be, and so i like that this read like a memoir of sorts. i like the zooming out from neuroscience and psychiatry into the bigger picture. I expect that I should be liking the technological aspects of it the most, the cutting edge parts of science, and i like the feeling of being at the precipice of it, but actually I find the human elements of the stories the most drawing and most compelling. i like it when deisseroth reveals or hints at personal revelations of his own life, and i like that he explains science in a non-jargon way. this skill is very lost, probably in myself as well. this book does take me down the intense breadth of experiences that humans can experience. it reminds me of a fairly specific feeling that was also captured in Kay Jamison's memoir, which is that I know nothing of the human mind, and that in some sense, there is so much beyond our control. i guess this is the opposite sense to what psychiatry might aim to show, but the reminder is important, to be grounded in reality. it also feels important somehow, to understand the range or extent to which the human mind can behave as. im rambling now. perhaps there are some reminders from psychiatry that are useful in healthy does. it makes life grounding. in some doses, it can easily be ungrounding. perhaps that is also a useful reminder. some of the revelations from research are just very fascinating, such as the inhibitory or excitatory cells. probably there was more, but i read to fast for my own good, where i should have slowed down. Anyway, there are a few memoirs that have undoubtedly left broader influences on me throughout my life. jamison's was one, and i think this is one too. perhaps the combination of neuroscience, being at the forefront of very big questions, was very illuminating for me. if this were the first book on psychiatry that i had read, i would have thought it a very ideal introduction because the examples are chosen well. i liked the very crisp descriptions, such as the gaps of empathy at some stage being like huge metal doors opening a slither. i thought things like this was very effective. however, i did notice that some sentences were confusingly structured. for the most part though, it reads well. i like that it also raises some very big open ended questions. these were also sections that i should have slowed down more on. the questioning of reality and being sound can be quite trippy. perhaps though, i do skim some of them because things such as free will interest me less, for whatever reason. overall, i found that the book interweaved neuroscience, psychiatry, technology, open-ended questions, reflections and an interesting memoir life arc in an interesting way. it made me think a lot, which is my ideal kind of book

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dan Mitnick

    This is a terrific book. Both deeply human and rigorously analytical this brief and gripping work combines neuroscience psychiatry and bioengineering in a well written and fundamentally humanities-based approach all of which stem from the improbably polyglot author, research scientist, clinician and academic, pursuits. Fascinating and empathetically rendered case studies articulately expressed in near poetic concision flesh and blood patients and the mental ailments they endure Each of the few sel This is a terrific book. Both deeply human and rigorously analytical this brief and gripping work combines neuroscience psychiatry and bioengineering in a well written and fundamentally humanities-based approach all of which stem from the improbably polyglot author, research scientist, clinician and academic, pursuits. Fascinating and empathetically rendered case studies articulately expressed in near poetic concision flesh and blood patients and the mental ailments they endure Each of the few selection are near literary characterizations in their own right and help to illuminate the well explained neuroscience presumably underneath the particular mental illness each individual suffers. Also part autobiography of a young thoughtful and caring practitioner on how to relate both clinically and as research scientist as well as personally, to the suffering before him. With the rigors of science and a whole person practitioner approach this is a remarkable balanced investigation into the "meat" AND "mind" that combined to conjurer an individual consciousness.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tommy Mcconnell

    TLDR: This book was not what I had expected it to be, but it was still worth reading. I was introduced to this book by listening to the Huberman Lab Podcast (which I highly recommend). As a guest on the show, Dr. Deisseroth discussed his contributions to neuroscience in developing the techniques of optogenetics and CLARITY, both of which intrigued me greatly, so I was excited to hear he had recently published a book. However, the book did not satiate my initial intrigue. While there were some br TLDR: This book was not what I had expected it to be, but it was still worth reading. I was introduced to this book by listening to the Huberman Lab Podcast (which I highly recommend). As a guest on the show, Dr. Deisseroth discussed his contributions to neuroscience in developing the techniques of optogenetics and CLARITY, both of which intrigued me greatly, so I was excited to hear he had recently published a book. However, the book did not satiate my initial intrigue. While there were some brief sections discussing these techniques, the majority of the book focuses on Deisseroth’s experiences as a psychiatrist rather than a neuroscientist. That being said, the stories of his patients, and of the complexity of treating them, are genuinely interesting, well written and emotionally engaging. So, despite not meeting my expectations, this was still a worthwhile work of non-fiction.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nout Vissers

    Nadat ik via de podcast van Andrew Huberman geïntroduceerd werd in het werk van Deisseroth waren mijn verwachtingen zeer hoog, doch op een totaal andere plek. In plaats van de 'droge' opsomming van de nieuwste neurowetenschappelijke technologieën die ik verwachtte, ben ik meegenomen door Deisseroths poëtische vertelling van zes patiëntverhalen uit zijn psychiatrische kliniek en de mentale/neurologische afwijkingen waar zij mee worstelen. De verhalen zijn wel degelijk verweven met de baanbrekende Nadat ik via de podcast van Andrew Huberman geïntroduceerd werd in het werk van Deisseroth waren mijn verwachtingen zeer hoog, doch op een totaal andere plek. In plaats van de 'droge' opsomming van de nieuwste neurowetenschappelijke technologieën die ik verwachtte, ben ik meegenomen door Deisseroths poëtische vertelling van zes patiëntverhalen uit zijn psychiatrische kliniek en de mentale/neurologische afwijkingen waar zij mee worstelen. De verhalen zijn wel degelijk verweven met de baanbrekende ontwikkelingen in de optogenetica, maar zijn geenszins droog te noemen. Absolute aanrader.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nate Lorenzen

    I would classify this as experimental nonfiction. With another round of edits it would be an easy 4 or 5 star review. Part of the book are fictional 1st person stories of experiencing severe psychiatric conditions. Then it’s the authors actual experience with being a resident helping people with the disorders. Then it’s a exploration of the wonders of optogenetics. It’s a bit all over the place. Who is the audience for this book? What is the take away? A different format or consistency in the chap I would classify this as experimental nonfiction. With another round of edits it would be an easy 4 or 5 star review. Part of the book are fictional 1st person stories of experiencing severe psychiatric conditions. Then it’s the authors actual experience with being a resident helping people with the disorders. Then it’s a exploration of the wonders of optogenetics. It’s a bit all over the place. Who is the audience for this book? What is the take away? A different format or consistency in the chapters in terms of always having the 1st person narritive would have gone a long way.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Brenner

    Probably the most beautifully written science-book I've ever read. Educational, scientifically fascinating and emotionally touching. Many popular science books have the tendency that they could be finished after 100 pages, while industry standards force them to pointlessly stretch out for 300 or so pages. Here I felt the exat opposite: I was ready to follow Karl Deisseroth's stories for many more hundred pages to come. Highly recommended! Probably the most beautifully written science-book I've ever read. Educational, scientifically fascinating and emotionally touching. Many popular science books have the tendency that they could be finished after 100 pages, while industry standards force them to pointlessly stretch out for 300 or so pages. Here I felt the exat opposite: I was ready to follow Karl Deisseroth's stories for many more hundred pages to come. Highly recommended!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joanna Clausen

    I appreciate the information about scientific breakthroughs into the study of the brain/mind connection; I appreciate the personal stories about the doctor's encounters with patients having different illnesses linked to the brain; I respect the doctor's obvious intelligence and his concern for his patients. I was not so impressed with his attempts at creative writing. A few doctors have the gift; most don't. I appreciate the information about scientific breakthroughs into the study of the brain/mind connection; I appreciate the personal stories about the doctor's encounters with patients having different illnesses linked to the brain; I respect the doctor's obvious intelligence and his concern for his patients. I was not so impressed with his attempts at creative writing. A few doctors have the gift; most don't.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jing

    I struggled a lot trying to stay focused on reading this book, since there are too many words I don't know, partly because English is my second language, partly because of the medical terms. Never the less an interesting read. I struggled a lot trying to stay focused on reading this book, since there are too many words I don't know, partly because English is my second language, partly because of the medical terms. Never the less an interesting read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    One of the worst books I've ever (tried to) read. The quality of Deisseroth's science is very high. The quality of his prose is very low, somewhere between pretentious and unintelligble. Possibly the most '-' that I've ever seen in a book. I had to return it. One of the worst books I've ever (tried to) read. The quality of Deisseroth's science is very high. The quality of his prose is very low, somewhere between pretentious and unintelligble. Possibly the most '-' that I've ever seen in a book. I had to return it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Claiborn

    This is going to be super short. I found the subjects discussed in this book intriguing, but the language was super pretentious and genuinely not for the average reader. Had he used more everyday language, this book would have been exponentially more enjoyable.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This book does not know what it wants to be. Uneven, and some chapters suffer from issues of audience (who are the readers for lengthy, repeating explanations of optogenetic research?) A couple of chapters were very good. More chapters were skim-fests.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Oleg

    Boring, over complicated, terribly written, and pretentious at best… How does this book have so many 5 stars?!?!? It is the most painful read I’ve done in a long time, I couldn’t get past 60 pages, I actually was seething with rage at how bad the writing was, extremely try hard

  23. 4 out of 5

    Samuel Mwangi

    Beautifully written book that describes different patient cases that have influenced and shaped the authors career.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cade

    The aspects on specific results obtained from the use of optogenetic studies is interesting. Unfortunately, there is precious little of that and way too much pretentious pontificating.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Samhita

    This book exemplifies the canonical literary nonfiction genre for me. Piercing imagery with words, steeped in science and human emotion, his genius doesn't disappoint. An absolute unputdownable. This book exemplifies the canonical literary nonfiction genre for me. Piercing imagery with words, steeped in science and human emotion, his genius doesn't disappoint. An absolute unputdownable.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Clara Lenni

    As a recent graduate in neuroscience, this book was the absolute best way to top my degree. Unlike any non-fiction science I’ve ever read, Diesseroth really put his heart and soul into this book, making it not simply factual but rather full of emotion, emanating the human connection that he explores. To witness his passion was an honour and a good reminder of my own. I felt it lacked a bit of direction, but enjoyed it nonetheless (perhaps not as invigorating for a non-scientist reader).

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    Never have I read a more poetic but scientific book. Deisserroth has an amazing way with words and is somehow able to describe indescribable phenomena that arise in the human mind.

  28. 4 out of 5

    raskoln1k0v

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mark Woodring

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tiana

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