How does memory work? Does artificial intelligence have consciousness? And what happens in our brain when we die? Journalist Barbara Schmutz has questions after questions. 300 to be exact – and find answers in people who deal with brain research, psychology, psychiatry, surgery and pharmacology.
In each of the sixteen chapters, everyone has their say and explains facts about their field of expertise (almost) without cumbersome slang. In this way we learn about different aspects of the human brain. Sometimes it comes down to neurobiological principles (“Why do genes turn on and off?”), and sometimes it becomes philosophical (“Is there room in the brain for the soul?”).
Every interview with a scientist begins with a sentence that roughly indicates what’s to come. But the questions are sometimes so different and the change of topic in a conversation so abrupt that a clear mapping of an area is not necessarily successful. On the other hand, short and easy to understand answers are helpful. However, this also ensures that it rarely goes deep.
One question, many answers
Barbara Schmutz asks a few questions many times – and it’s exciting to see how different interviewees respond and what aspects matter to them. However, if you want to compare the answers to a particular question, you have to effortlessly scroll back and forth and search. It’s hard anyway to keep your directions. The table of contents initially lists only the names of experts – of course, hardly anyone could imagine anything like that.
At the end of the interview, the author then presents a short biography of each expert. References can also be found here, which unfortunately are very few. It points here and there to a specific scientific publication, but you often have to research it yourself if you want to read a claim.
However, Brainstorming is a recommended book for anyone wishing to learn more about the human brain. Because it provides a great overview of how exciting and diverse the questions neuroscientists are trying to understand – and how different points of view are. The work is especially suitable for those who have not yet had much contact with these topics. But even with prior knowledge, the set of questions is very interesting: it reminds you to look at known problems or situations from a different perspective and shows ways in which science can be passed on to interested people.