Into the Gray Zone: A Neuroscientist Explores the Border Between Life and Death

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In this “riveting read, meshing memoir with scientific explication” (Nature), a world-renowned neuroscientist reveals how he learned to communicate with patients in vegetative or “gray zone” states and, more importantly, he explains what those interactions tell us about the working of our own brains.

“Vivid, emotional, and thought-provoking” (Publishers Weekly), Into the Gray Zone takes readers to the edge of a dazzling, humbling frontier in our understanding of the brain: the so-called “gray zone” between full consciousness and brain death. People in this middle place have sustained traumatic brain injuries or are the victims of stroke or degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Many are oblivious to the outside world, and their doctors believe they are incapable of thought. But a sizeable number—as many as twenty percent—are experiencing something different: intact minds adrift deep within damaged brains and bodies. An expert in the field, Adrian Owen led a team that, in 2006, discovered this lost population and made medical history. Scientists, physicians, and philosophers have only just begun to grapple with the implications.

Following Owen’s journey of exciting medical discovery, Into the Gray Zone asks some tough and terrifying questions, such as: What is life like for these patients? What can their families and friends do to help them? What are the ethical implications for religious organizations, politicians, the Right to Die movement, and even insurers? And perhaps most intriguing of all: in defining what a life worth living is, are we too concerned with the physical and not giving enough emphasis to the power of thought? What, truly, defines a satisfying life?

“Strangely uplifting…the testimonies of people who have returned from the gray zone evoke the mysteries of consciousness and identity with tremendous power” (The New Yorker). This book is about the difference between a brain and a mind, a body and a person. Into the Gray Zone is “a fascinating memoir…reads like a thriller” (Mail on Sunday).
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About the author

Adrian Owen is currently the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and imaging at The Brain and Mind Institute, Western University, Canada. He has spent the last twenty years pioneering breakthroughs in cognitive neuroscience. Among the media outlets that have featured Adrian’s research are The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, Nature, The Lancet, Science, and The New England Journal of Medicine. A resident of London, Ontario, he can be found at OwenLab.uwo.ca.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Jun 20, 2017
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781501135224
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Medical
Medical / Neuroscience
Science / Cognitive Science
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“One of the most important books I’ve ever read—an indispensable guide to thinking clearly about the world.” – Bill Gates

“Hans Rosling tells the story of ‘the secret silent miracle of human progress’ as only he can. But Factfulness does much more than that. It also explains why progress is so often secret and silent and teaches readers how to see it clearly.” —Melinda Gates

"Factfulness by Hans Rosling, an outstanding international public health expert, is a hopeful book about the potential for human progress when we work off facts rather than our inherent biases." - Former U.S. President Barack Obama

Factfulness: The stress-reducing habit of only carrying opinions for which you have strong supporting facts.

When asked simple questions about global trends—what percentage of the world’s population live in poverty; why the world’s population is increasing; how many girls finish school—we systematically get the answers wrong. So wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random will consistently outguess teachers, journalists, Nobel laureates, and investment bankers.

In Factfulness, Professor of International Health and global TED phenomenon Hans Rosling, together with his two long-time collaborators, Anna and Ola, offers a radical new explanation of why this happens. They reveal the ten instincts that distort our perspective—from our tendency to divide the world into two camps (usually some version of us and them) to the way we consume media (where fear rules) to how we perceive progress (believing that most things are getting worse).

Our problem is that we don’t know what we don’t know, and even our guesses are informed by unconscious and predictable biases.

It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think. That doesn’t mean there aren’t real concerns. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most.

Inspiring and revelatory, filled with lively anecdotes and moving stories, Factfulness is an urgent and essential book that will change the way you see the world and empower you to respond to the crises and opportunities of the future.

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“This book is my last battle in my life-long mission to fight devastating ignorance...Previously I armed myself with huge data sets, eye-opening software, an energetic learning style and a Swedish bayonet for sword-swallowing. It wasn’t enough. But I hope this book will be.” Hans Rosling, February 2017.

Most of us have no idea what’s really going on inside our heads. Yet brain scientists have uncovered details every business leader, parent, and teacher should know—like the need for physical activity to get your brain working its best.

How do we learn? What exactly do sleep and stress do to our brains? Why is multi-tasking a myth? Why is it so easy to forget—and so important to repeat new knowledge? Is it true that men and women have different brains?

In Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina, a molecular biologist, shares his lifelong interest in how the brain sciences might influence the way we teach our children and the way we work. In each chapter, he describes a brain rule—what scientists know for sure about how our brains work—and then offers transformative ideas for our daily lives.

Medina’s fascinating stories and infectious sense of humor breathe life into brain science. You’ll learn why Michael Jordan was no good at baseball. You’ll peer over a surgeon’s shoulder as he proves that most of us have a Jennifer Aniston neuron. You’ll meet a boy who has an amazing memory for music but can’t tie his own shoes.

You will discover how:

Every brain is wired differently
Exercise improves cognition
We are designed to never stop learning and exploring
Memories are volatile
Sleep is powerfully linked with the ability to learn
Vision trumps all of the other senses
Stress changes the way we learn

In the end, you’ll understand how your brain really works—and how to get the most out of it.
 他們似生非死,在泥淖裡苦苦掙扎

陷入意識灰色地帶,如同浮沉混濁意識的孤鳥

判定對外界無反應的患者,有如徘迴在大腦迷宮的旅人……

 

★英國廣播電視台BBC專題追蹤報導

★CNN《60分鐘》專訪專題

★泰晤士報、紐約時報、每日郵報、洛杉磯時報……各大國際媒體專題報導

 

「腦死」究竟是怎麼樣的狀態?「昏迷」的人聽得到我們說話嗎?「植物人」會痛嗎?對腦神經科學家安卓恩.歐文來說,他們是徘徊在「意識灰色地帶」的人,他們都是「困在大腦裡的人」!

 

■無反應不表示沒意識——引爆科學、醫學與哲學思辨的最新大腦研究

  科學家把介於有意識與腦死的模糊地帶稱之為「意識灰色地帶」,這類患者不是腦部嚴重受創,就是中風和退化性疾病(如阿茲海默症和巴金森氏症)的受害者。雖然這些病人很多對外界都沒有反應,且他們的醫生和家屬也都認為他們無法思考,但在歐文的研究中卻發現,這當中卻有為數不少的病人不太一樣。

  這些與眾不同的病人,其實還擁有完整的心智,只不過受制於受損的大腦和軀體,才讓他們無法與外界溝通。歐文帶領團隊藉由各種精密的大腦掃描技術、聽覺刺激,甚至是亞佛烈德.希區考克的影片剪輯,發現了這個失落的族群。不只寫下了醫學史的新篇章,還引起了無數科學家、醫師和哲學家對生命的意義、價值和目的的討論!

 

■為意識孤島,搭建溝通橋梁

  當至親至愛陷入意識灰色地帶,最多的親屬都想知道──你痛苦嗎?、你快樂嗎?以及最後,也最關鍵的一題:「你,還想活著嗎?」

 

  本書紀錄歐文運用最新的科技,與這群失落的族群「溝通」的故事,他不只是「找到」被困在大腦裡的病人,更能實際和他們溝通,並以引導式的問題得到他們的回覆。

 

#因紛爭摔傷成為植物人的大學籃球校隊傑出球員──艾咪的故事

歐文刻意詢問艾咪只有她能回答的個人問題,透過大腦活動反應位置不同,發現艾咪竟然能精準回答一連串的問題,在意識孤島中找到艾咪。被判定為植物人的她不只活著,且具有完整的意識!從此,家人改變對艾咪的照護方式,做任何事都向她解釋,隨時告訴她家人的生活狀況,帶她去看電影,幫她舉辦慶生會。歐文的發現,使得艾咪被困在軀殼裡長達七個月後,才終於又被當作一個人對待。

 

#因重感冒引起急性瀰漫性腦脊髓炎的托兒所老師──凱特的故事

凱特是歐文研究的病患中,首位從意識灰色地帶歸來的人。歐文透過家人照片與隨機照片的混合測試,發現凱特看到家人照片時,大腦有反應,證實她是有意識的。檢查後幾個月,凱特竟然奇蹟似地醒了過來,醒來的凱特能清楚描述自己被困在灰色意識裡的狀態,也證實當時她會感覺痛,也曾想發出聲音但身體怎麼也做不到,連想停止呼吸自殺也無能為力。這告白,十分令人揪心。

 

歐文的凱特研究,凸顯了當代醫學技術對於這些身體無反應者的了解仍不夠多,還有待更深入的研究與發展。

 

■持續為困在大腦裡的人請命

  歐文至今仍持續為這些深陷意識灰色地帶的患者努力,有朝一日,隨著「腦機介面」裝置的蓬勃發展,也許我們將能徹底改變與這群無法表達的患者溝通,這不僅改寫我們的未來,改變腦損傷患者的癒後狀況,更開創全人類擁有心電感應和超強智力的無限可能性!

 

★ 各界盛讚 ★

 

這是一本極為發人深省的書,它會讓你開始思考人生中最基本的概念:活著的意義以及成就你這個人的根本。安卓恩.歐文不僅是科學家中的翹楚,也是出色的說書人。

──丹尼爾.列維廷(Daniel J. Levitin),

著有紐約時報暢銷書《迷戀音樂的腦》(This Is Your Brain on Music)和《精明的腦袋》(直譯,The Organized Mind)

 

欲探究意識和人類精神邊界者的必讀佳作。神經科學家安卓恩.歐文將帶領我們展開一段迷人又揪心的旅程,探索人類經歷中最神祕的領域:生與死的灰色地帶。書中他將以權威、熱情和出乎意料的幽默筆觸,敘述這場真實的科學探險故事。《困在大腦裡的人》是一本引人入勝的讀物,你的眼界、心胸和思想都將因它開拓。

──賈許.赫維茲(Joshua Horwitz),

二™一五年「國際筆會/E.O.威爾遜文學科學寫作獎」(PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award)得主,

著有《鯨魚戰爭》(直譯,War of the Whales: A True Story)

 

 

這本書絕對會是你讀過最動人又吸睛的科普書。安卓恩.歐文在《困在大腦裡》,不僅以該領域研究先驅的角度清晰描述了神經科學最前線的狀況,也從一個家屬的角度去深刻描述每一段與他切身有關和探索病人意識的點點滴滴。歐文巧妙地把這兩股脈絡融合在一起,進而帶出關於人類本體和價值的重要道德問題。

──丹尼爾.博爾(Daniel Bor),

著有《貪婪的大腦》(The Ravenous Brain: How the New Science of Consciousness Explains Our Insatiable Search for Meaning)

 

極為感人、深遠又精彩絕倫的著作,字裡行間都可看出他對生命和科學的熱情。歐文一直致力於神經科學的探索,他希望改變人們對植物人的想法,並讓病人和家屬得到他們渴求的答案。他的這段探索歷程高潮迭起,讀者無不笑中帶淚、又驚又喜。

──約翰.鄧肯(John Duncan),

著有《智慧由何來》(直譯,How Intelligence Happens)
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