An Amazon Best Nonfiction Book of the Month
Award-winning science writer Helen Thomson unlocks the biggest mysteries of the human brain by examining nine extraordinary cases
Our brains are far stranger than we think. We take it for granted that we can remember, feel emotion, navigate, empathise and understand the world around us, but how would our lives change if these abilities were dramatically enhanced – or disappeared overnight?
Helen Thomson has spent years travelling the world, tracking down incredibly rare brain disorders. In Unthinkable she tells the stories of nine extraordinary people she encountered along the way. From the man who thinks he's a tiger to the doctor who feels the pain of others just by looking at them to a woman who hears music that’s not there, their experiences illustrate how the brain can shape our lives in unexpected and, in some cases, brilliant and alarming ways.
Story by remarkable story, Unthinkable takes us on an unforgettable journey through the human brain. Discover how to forge memories that never disappear, how to grow an alien limb and how to make better decisions. Learn how to hallucinate and how to make yourself happier in a split second. Find out how to avoid getting lost, how to see more of your reality, even how exactly you can confirm you are alive. Think the unthinkable.
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About the Author
Helen Thomson is a writer and consultant with New Scientist magazine and was shortlisted as Best Science Journalist in the British Journalism Awards. She has won several other awards, including media fellowships at both Harvard and MIT and the Best Newcomer in the ABSW Science Writers Awards for Britain and Ireland in 2010. She has also written for The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Daily Mail and Nature. She lives in London.
Table of Contents
Introduction-The Strange Life of the Brain 1
Bob-Never Forgetting a Moment 17
Sharon-Being Permanently Lost 45
Rubén-Seeing Auras 73
Tommy-Switching Personalities 99
Sylvia-An Endless Hallucination 129
Matar-Turning into a Tiger 147
Louise-Becoming Unreal 171
Graham-Waking Up Dead 189
Joel-Feeling Other People's Pain 215
Conclusion-Nothing Is Unthinkable 241
Notes and Sources 255