A stirring scientific journey, a celebration of human diversity and a call to rethink the 'unthinkable'
Imagine turning into a tiger. Or getting permanently lost in your own one bedroom home. It sounds like the stuff of nightmares - but this is the engrossing subject of Thomson's exploration of extraordinary brains. With flair and empathy, the author sees her subjects in the context of their everyday lives, allowing us to marvel at their humanity . . . accessible, well researched, thought-provoking. Like The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Unthinkable offers us a wondrous array of rare and weird disorders...This lucid and compelling book not only celebrates the incredible machinery we call the brain, it's also full of insights and invaluable tips. Thomson tells us how to forge memories that never disappear; how to grow an alien limb. And don't forget to make an animal noise next time you turn off the gas hob - it'll help you remember you've switched it off later in the day. We are our brains, and they are stranger than we think
Refreshingly personal... humane and often humorous
This wonderfully clear, fluent, eye-opening book explores what happens when the mind misbehaves: distance is distorted, memory plays tricks, people hear in colour and see in music. Helen Thomson is the science teacher you wish you'd had at school . . . The unruliness of the misfiring brain is what makes Unthinkable so fascinating and so frightening . . . Thomson's book repays careful reading. Don't skip the science to get on to the well-I-never case histories. You need both together. And when the doctors Thomson interviews conclude, at the end of their examinations, that they simply cannot explain the weird workings of the brain, it isn't a "dunno" of defeat, but of wonder
Exceptional... From seeing auras and turning into a tiger, to waking up 'dead' and being able to remember every single day of your life in vivid detail, award-winning science journalist Thomson investigates wondrously rare and strange brain disorders in this terrific debut. While acknowledging her debt to the late, great Oliver Sacks, Thomson sets out to do things t differently by meeting her nine subjects not in clinical environments but as they live their daily lives with extraordinary brains. Theirs are mystery stories, spellbinding and true."
By including both clear explanations of research and interviews with her subjects about their lived experience, Thomson shows how our own brains might try to make sense of the world in the same ways, with fun experiments to trick ourselves into hallucinating or even believing we've an alien limb
Fun facts are what make popular science popular. Helen Thomson's first book has a ready supply of them, and she is good at giving them context . . . there is much of interest here
By including both clear explanations of recent research and interviews with her subjects about their lived experience, Thomson show how our own brains might try to make sense of the world
Thomson brings intellectual rigour to each subject, discussing history, causes, treatment and more, in what amounts to an utterly fascinating romp around the nether regions of the human mind
By the end of her journey Helen Thomson had certainly persuaded me to see the world differently
The beautifully written story of [those], whose maladies give us an insight into the brain, our most mysterious organ