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Friday, April 10, 2009

The Three-Pound Enigma

Moffett, Shannon. The Three-Pound Enigma: The Human Brain and the Quest to Unlock Its Mysteries.

While not as absorbing as The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge or The Intention Experiment by Lynne McTaggert, this book does take a different approach to the study of the brain--concentrating on different individuals: a neurosurgeon, neuroscientists and researchers, philosophers, a woman with a disassociative disorder, a neuroethicist, and a zen monk.

The main questions concern consciousness, dreams, and memory. How does consciousness relate to the neural system? What is consciousness? How does memory work? What about dreaming and consciousness? Dreaming and memory? What about the changes in the brains of those who meditate as illustrated by fMRI scans?

In between the chapters, there are also chronological (and technical) explanations of brain development in a timeline format. These "interludes" begin with the embryonic period and the initial formation of brain matter and by the end of the book, the final interlude discusses the normal cognitive decline that occurs as a result of deficits in one or both of two systems: executive function and declarative memory.

There are, of course, more questions than answers, but there are some interesting questions in the quest to learn more about that one organ that so markedly differentiates us as thinking beings.

Nonfiction. Science. 2006. 237 pages.


  1. What an interesting group of individuals featured in this book. I've already add to my brain library since starting The Vigorous Mind so I think I better pass on this one. Incidentally, one I bought was The Brain That Changes Itself.

  2. booklogged - I think you'll like The Brain That Changes Itself!