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Sam Kean

Apr 26, 2018

The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons

The History of the Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery

LIttle, Brown and Company 2015

purchase at bookshop.org Early studies of the functions of the human brain used a simple method: wait for misfortune to strike---strokes, seizures, infectious diseases, lobotomies, horrendous accidents-and see how the victim coped. In many cases survival was miraculous, and observers could only marvel at the transformations that took place afterward, altering victims' personalities. An injury to one section can leave a person unable to recognize loved ones; some brain trauma can even make you a pathological gambler, pedophile, or liar. But the book The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery (Back Bay Books, 2015) explains how a few scientists realized that these injuries were an opportunity for studying brain function at its extremes. With lucid explanations and incisive wit, Sam Kean explains the brain's secret passageways while recounting forgotten stories of common people whose struggles, resiliency, and deep humanity made modern neuroscience possible.

Jeremy Corr is the co-host of the hit Fixing Healthcare podcast along with industry thought leader Dr. Robert Pearl. A University of Iowa history alumnus, Jeremy is curious and passionate about all things healthcare, which means he’s always up for a good discussion! Reach him at jeremyccorr@gmail.com.

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