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Mirkat Always Reading

I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.

Switched On

Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening - Alvaro Pascual-Leon, John Elder Robison, Marcel Adam Just

Finished this one a couple of days ago and I keep forgetting to review it--probably because I transitioned right into listening to Running With Scissors.  Augusten Burroughs is John Elder Robison's little brother.  I had no idea!


Anyway, Robison was not diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome until he was 40 years old.  He has written a few other books about his experiences growing up with undiagnosed autism, raising an autistic son, and "being different," and I am definitely curious about those.  This most recent book recounts his experiences participating in a study on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.  As he explains on his blog, TMS is "a process by which scientists focus powerful magnetic fields on specific area of the brain to enhance or inhibit them.  By doing so, our very cognitive processes can be altered."  For Robison, the most dramatic effects of TMS had to do with experiencing emotions--his own and others--and learning to read non-verbal cues he had previously been blind to.  Although the direct effects of TMS are temporary, what he learned from those effects seemingly forged new pathways in his brain, resulting in lasting improvements in his ability to "read" people.


Robison is careful to include certain misgivings he has with possible uses of TMS on autistic brains.  It has great potential to help autistic people with aspects of their autism that present problems for them.  But there are also the gifts he would hate to see lost in efforts to "fix" such brains.


Recommended for people fascinated by brains and their many variations.