From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Sacks, famous for combining his knowledge as a physician and his compassion for human stories of coping with neurological disorders, offers case histories of six individuals adjusting to major changes in their vision. A renowned pianist has lost the ability to read music scores and must cope with the fear of an ever-shrinking life as her vision worsens. A prolific writer develops word blindness and is unable to read even what he himself writes, forcing him to develop memory books in his mind, adaptations that he later incorporates into his fiction writing. Sacks recalls his own struggle to cope with a tumor in his eye that left him unable to perceive depth. He includes diary entries and drawings of his harrowing experience. Sacks, author of the acclaimed Musicophilia (2007), among other titles, combines neurobiology, psychology, and psychiatry in this riveting exploration of how we use our vision to perceive and understand the world and our place in it and how our brains teach us to see those things we need to lead a complete, fulfilled life.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2010 Booklist
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
The Mind's Eye, like other books (e.g., Musicophilia, CH, Apr'08, 45-4287) by eminent neurologist Sacks (Columbia Univ. Medical Center), explores the linkages between brain and behavior. It evaluates visual processing, particularly its deprivation and the body's responses to this. Sacks examines the consequences of aphasia (problems recognizing language), prosopagnosia (difficulty interpreting faces), loss of stereopsis (seeing depth with both eyes), and finally, partial (one eye) or complete blindness. Rather than just looking at the results of damage or disconnection, the book focuses on what happens after--on learning, reorganization, and the compensation that people make when their sensory world is so disrupted. Despite what looks like terrible lack or loss, a person can rise above the deprivation and lead a full and, in some cases, distinguished life. Not everyone reacts the same way; for instance, some blind people are excellent at visual imaging; others can apparently "write" on a visual "screen"; still others shift their focus to other senses and enhance them. This intriguing account of plasticity is interwoven with historical asides about visual theorists along with some of the author's own experiences. It makes a fascinating mosaic reflecting how brain and behavior work and a ringing endorsement of the human spirit. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. J. A. Mather University of Lethbridge
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Sacks (neurology & psychiatry, Columbia Univ. Medical Ctr.; The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat) continues his successful stream of books on the quirky aspects of psychiatry with this latest, which explores the fascinating stories of six people who have learned to navigate the world and communicate with others despite losing one of their key senses and abilities, e.g., the power of speech, the capacity to recognize faces, the sense of three-dimensional space, and the ability to read. Also revealed is the author's own dramatic story of a tumor in one eye that left him unable to perceive depth. As in all Sacks's works, readers will learn about fundamental facets of the human experience while better understanding the unpredictable new ways the brain can find to perceive, which allows it to create complete images of the world. Sacks delivers a richly detailed examination of various paradoxical medical conditions while he wrestles with more fundamental clinical questions, such as how humans really see and think. VERDICT The author's well-known style creatively balances complex medical discussion, which will appeal to professionals on the one hand, with solid, down-to-earth prose, which will attract his legion of fans interested in the human condition on the other.-Dale Farris, Groves, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.