Outside of living during a pandemic, plenty of quarantine time, and below freezing averages, this winter has given us plenty of reading time. And in addition to reading and writing about books that have been sitting on my shelf for years, I’ve been delving deeper into cognitive literary theory, the psychology of how we read books and how our minds interpret words and phrases into ideas and descriptions for us to follow along. Since I’m at the beginning of this journey, I’ve reached out to friends working in psychology and have received an even larger list of books to read.
The first on my list was The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean, an introduction to neuroscience using brilliant storytelling of scientific cases and the path science has taken to get us to how we understand the brain today. Although the early days of brain science were under the guise of “wait until something goes wrong and diagnose,” plenty of early scientists were theorizing what would happen if certain things were done. After King Henry II of France was injured in a jousting accident, the “dueling neurosurgeons,” Ambroise Paré and Andreas Vesalius, came to his aide. From their efforts and experiments during those last few days, they were able to conclude several theories about the brain, one confirming the placement of concussions. Here’s a post from Grey Matters (an undergraduate journal) that has more information.
Kean teaches and presents in such a way that all information learned is important for each chapter and story. Because of that, all the facts, figures, and cases he presents feel imperative to understanding every step of the way, making the information fun to absorb and interesting to learn.
I had such a great time learning and being a part of this book. I haven’t read anything else by Kean, The Disappearing Spoon being his most famous, but I am ready to tackle all of those.
Peace, Love, and Science,