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SciTech Daily Review

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Under The Microscope

CARE AND FEEDING OF THE BRAIN, by Jack Maguire; Doubleday 1990; 184 pages; $24.95

These days, there are a great number of very poorly produced pop psychology texts written about the brain and its functions. On the whole, this book is not one of those. It is a clearly written, nicely illustrated look at a huge range of topics associated with the brain and mind.

Chapters on consciousness, memory, intelligence and emotions are well thought out and, generally, well researched. It has a good index --something that is always appreciated -- but it would have been nice to have a short bio on the writer somewhere. "Fact or Folklore" sections deal with some of the more controversial claims of hypnosis, gender differences in brain structure and aphrodisiacs. "Brainware" pages provide an enthusiastic look at a gamut of brain-related equipment.

There are problems with the rather breathless approach in that some of the claims made are questionable or downright inaccurate. It is disturbing to see dubious brain "potentialization" equipment displayed alongside CAT scanners as if both provide comparable information about the brain and brain states. I also object to the comment that firewalking is a "mind-over-matter stunt" -- having done it, I can testify that it's wholly a matter of physics.

Despite such flaws, the book is well worth its price for some of the gems its reveals. My favourite is the term for the fear of computers or computing: logizomechanophobia. It's a useful term, don't leave home without it.

Vicki Hyde