Unthinkable: An Extraordinary Journey Through the World's Strangest Brains

HarperCollins. Jun. 2018. 288p. notes. index. ISBN 9780062391162. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062391186. SCI
OrangeReviewStarScientific revelations often occur when results do not fit within accepted paradigms. This is one reason neuroscientists research outliers; studying people with unusual brains has led to some of their greatest findings. Thomson, an award-winning science journalist, tells the story of nine people with extraordinary brains. But rather than focusing on the science, Thomson travels around the world to tell stories of the consequences of unusual cognition on lives. Her subjects include a man who believes he is a tiger, a man who for years believed he was dead, and a woman completely detached from both her internal and external worlds. The author often includes a tip about how the story, however strange it may seem, relates more generally to either humans or all mammals. While recognizing the challenges that each of the individuals face, this work is ultimately a celebration of variance within human experience. Indeed, the book may change your perception of what it means to be human.
VERDICT Thomson has a gift for making the complex and strange understandable and relatable. Oliver Sacks is noted as an inspiration and, indeed, this book will appeal to his many fans.

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