If I were to rename this book, I would name it Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About the Brain. I have had a fascination with the brain for quite a while, both because of my superior intellect (don’t laugh) and because the brain is a wonderful, complex organ. In fact, the book states that it is the most complex thing we know of in the universe. When my son suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2002, the rehabilitation doctor referred to it as a “black box,” that is, when something happens to it, we don’t know what we will end up with.
I’m no stranger to Michio Kaku, who is known for taking complex science topics and make them easily digestible to the reading public. I have in my library Physics of the Impossible, where he looks at some of the more far-fetched ideas used in science fiction, and tells us how and whether they would ever be possible. He is a theoretical physicist, but doesn’t rely on his own knowledge for this book, but fills it with interview from every expert conceivable.
And there are some pretty interesting facts in here. In one section, when he talks about IQ, he shares data that runs contrary to what most colleges teach. Science has discovered there is no parallel between IQ, SAT scores and high grades, and how successful and happy the person will be, or even how much they will contribute to society. There are other factors, such as self-discipline, ability to focus attention and delay gratification that are more significant in predicting the personal success of the individual.
He talks about memory, telekinesis and telepathy, as well as the myriad diseases that affect the thinking process, and what most likely is the cause behind them. And he takes on a tour of the brain and what each part does.
If you’re interested at all in dreams, what alien brains might be like, or potential cures for Alzheimers, this is the book for you. It’s not fiction, and not written that way, so there are some slow parts. But for someone interested in this kind of thing, it’s a book to read.
I give it four and a half out of five stars.