A User's Guide to the Brain

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If mapping your brain were like mapping, say, Pennsylvania, John Ratey says, it wouldn’t be enough to put in all the byways and backroads; you’d have to render voting belts and ethnic connections, today and in history, also weather patterns and geologic underpinnings.

But the brain, Dr. Ratey adds, with 40 quadrillion synaptic connections, is vastly more complicated than Pennsylvania, and more organic, fluid, interactive and malleable. John Ratey’s a psychiatrist catching up with the cognitive sciences. He says the brain looks less like a machine than an ecosystem: picture a jungle with a known number of beetles, banana trees, monkeys and parrots.
Call them the genetic structures of our consciousness and imagination, but realize they no more fix your thinking or feeling than the jungle today forecasts the jungle 30 years from now. Ratey says: knowing your brain can change your life.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


John Ratey, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of “A User’s Guide to the Brain: Perception, Attention, and the Four Theaters of the Brain.”