Have You Heard About… The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons

… the wonders of the human brain? Sam Kean brings us another great nonfiction book, The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery. While scientists can learn a lot about most of our bodies by studying other animals, some aspects of the human brain (and mind) are unique. For the most part, ethical researchers can’t just go poking around in someone’s skull to see what happens. So how did scientists learn what parts of the brain control speech, memory, emotion, and everything else that makes us who we are? They looked at the brains of people who had problems (injuries, illnesses, and so on) to see what was different from healthy brains.

Dueling-NeurosurgeonsAs in his previous books, Sam Kean does an excellent job of making a very complex subject understandable. He moves from the basics of how neurons communicate with one another to the way neurons are grouped together and the ways different parts of the brain affect different things. Mr. Kean helps the reader relate to the incredible details of neuroscience by filling his book with the stories of the patients and scientists involved. From two of the earliest neurosurgeons investigating the brain of French king Henri II after he was injured in a joust to a pair of conjoined twins born in 2006 with a shared skull and linked brains, the study of the human brain is filled with fascinating people.

If you have ever wondered how you think or how your memory works or what makes you you, you’re not alone. To be honest, scientists still don’t have all of the answers. However, this book will help you understand the progress that has been made in figuring out the human brain.

Reviewed by Fran (staff)