Cover image for Mapping the mind
Mapping the mind
Carter, Rita.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley, CA. : University of California Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
224 pages : color illustrations ; 27 cm
General Note:
Designed and illustrated by MoonRunner Design Ltd.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QP376 .C37 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
QP376 .C37 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Today a brain scan reveals our thoughts, moods, and memories as clearly as an X-ray reveals our bones. We can actually observe a person's brain registering a joke or experiencing a painful memory. Drawing on the latest imaging technology and the expertise of distinguished scientists, Rita Carter explores the geography of the human brain. Her writing is clear, accessible, witty, and the book's 150 illustrations--most in color--present an illustrated guide to that wondrous, coconut-sized, wrinkled gray mass we carry inside our heads.

Mapping the Mind charts the way human behavior and culture have been molded by the landscape of the brain. Carter shows how our personalities reflect the biological mechanisms underlying thought and emotion and how behavioral eccentricities may be traced to abnormalities in an individual brain. Obsessions and compulsions seem to be caused by a stuck neural switch in a region that monitors the environment for danger. Addictions stem from dysfunction in the brain's reward system. Even the sense of religious experience has been linked to activity in a certain brain region. The differences between men and women's brains, the question of a "gay brain," and conditions such as dyslexia, autism, and mania are also explored.

Looking inside the brain, writes Carter, we see that actions follow from our perceptions, which are due to brain activity dictated by a neuronal structure formed from the interplay between our genes and the environment. Without sidestepping the question of free will, Carter suggests that future generations will use our increasing knowledge of the brain to "enhance those mental qualities that give sweetness and meaning to our lives, and to eradicate those that are destructive."

Author Notes

Rita Carter is a medical writer for the Independent , New Scientist , Daily Mail , Telegraph , and other British publications and was twice awarded the Medical Journalists' Association prize for outstanding contributions to medical journalism. She lives in Ashford, England.
The general consultant for Mapping the Mind is Christopher Frith , Professor in Neuropsychology, Wellcome Department of Cognitive Neurology. The contributors include Simon Baron-Cohen, Francis Crick, Antonio Damasio, Uta Frith, Richard Gregory, Joseph LeDoux, Sir Roger Penrose, John Maynard Smith, Steven Rose and other leading researchers in brain science.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Carter, a distinguished English medical journalist, has written a handsome and very accessible book designed to introduce laypeople to contemporary neurochemistry, neurobiology and brain research. Carter shows how this research has traced emotions, impressions, thoughts and behaviors‘from tasting a sprig of thyme to solving a math problem to killing an intruder‘to particular parts of the brain. Descriptions of normal brain function are interspersed with details about the research and about extraordinary, illuminating cases: of the woman to whom the name "Richard" tasted like chocolate, of the man who tried to have sex with a sidewalk. Readers learn that sense-data from the eyes and ears go first to the thalamus; that falling in love may be caused by a single chemical called oxytocin; and that one thinker, Itzhak Fried, has hypothesized "syndrome E," a neurobiological disorder, in young men who carry out genocides. Mixing established knowledge with new speculations, Carter takes care to tell readers which is which. She strews her text with bright diagrams and pictures, and avoids specialized or technical language: readers of Scientific American, or even of Oliver Sacks, may find themselves wishing for more detail. Carter seems to be writing for adults and teens who don't know the field and want to learn it, and she does it right. Short inset essays (some by distinguished scientists, others by Carter) address such specific topics as the chemistry of drug addiction, the origins of autism and alleged differences between gay and straight brains. 100 color & 50 b&w illustrations. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

YA-A readable overview of the social implications of brain research and an examination of some mind studies. Yet, Carter reminds readers that "the vision of the brain we have now is probably no more complete or accurate than a sixteenth-century map of the world." Interspersed within the text are wonderful sidebars, some of which offer insight from world-renowned researchers, and others that just shine a light on the subject matter. "Scanning the Brain," for example, offers clear explanations of nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMR), computerized tomography (CT), positron-emission tomography (PET), and other types of brain scans. Carter offers interesting examples and illustrative comparisons throughout. Colorful and visually pleasing photos and artwork help to fill in the gaps in readers' understanding and add to the book's usefulness for reports. Sections such as "Is Autism an Extreme Form of Male Brain?" and the explanation of synaesthesia (blending of senses, or "seeing sounds," "tasting what is seen") make for fascinating reading. There is an extensive bibliography for each chapter and a complete index. Young adults will find comprehending brain functions a bit easier, and surprisingly interesting, with this reference source.-Carol DeAngelo, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Carter, a medical and science writer from England, has written an excellent book on the brain. The information, from neurochemicals to brain mapping, is up-to-date and written in an especially accessible manner. Clearly the writing has benefited from the author's training in journalism and the collaboration of scientific adviser Christopher Frith (Wellcome Department of Cognitive Neurology). There are a number of beautiful images and helpful diagrams; if the images were larger, this would be an outstanding coffee-table book. In addition to the text and pictures, Carter has also persuaded a number of today's leading neuroscientists to contribute brief essays about their subdisciplines. Far superior to Susan Greenfield's The Human Brain: A Guided Tour (CH, Jan'98), Carter's book is a must for any library. Neuroscientists and individuals interested in the field will be very pleased with it. All levels. C. R. Timmons; Drew University

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 6
Acknowledgementsp. 9
Chapter 1 The Emerging Landscapep. 10
Chapter 2 The Great Dividep. 34
Chapter 3 Beneath the Surfacep. 54
Chapter 4 A Changeable Climatep. 80
Chapter 5 A World of One's Ownp. 106
Chapter 6 Crossing the Chasmp. 136
Chapter 7 States of Mindp. 158
Chapter 8 Higher Groundp. 180
Referencesp. 208
Bibliographyp. 215
Indexp. 221