Sunday, March 20, 2016

‘Switched On’ by John Elder Robison

In 2008, John Elder Robison took part in a trial study that involved electromagnetic pulses of energy directed at areas in a person’s brain. The purpose of the study was to explore the possibility of helping people with autism read emotions in other people.

Robison documents his experience in Switched On, A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening (Random House Publishing Group, March 22, 2016).

The treatments provoked a variety of effects as different areas of the brain were targeted. Robison documents a short-term ability to read people’s moods from their faces.

He also re-experienced a scene from his early career when he worked as a sound engineer. He was backstage at a Boston night club, circa 1984, listening to the musicians playing. As he vividly re-experienced this scene, the music had a new emotional overlay.

Short-term effects dissipated as each treatment wore off, but Robison also documents changes in his brain that developed long-term. He became more expressive in the tone of his voice, and found it easier to detect sarcasm and other subtle underpinnings to interactions with family, friends and customers.

In Switched On, Robison presents a fascinating account of his experiences with the trial. He also brings readers up-to-date with his family since publication of earlier books.

Reading Robison’s books is consistently a treat. He has a very accessible style. I appreciate his ability all-the-more with this book because the human brain is a very complex subject. But Robison describes a complicated procedure in a very understandable way.

I am grateful to Robison for the effort he brings to the realm of autism science. This book is a product and testimony to that ongoing effort.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinion expressed is my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Robust debate and even unusual opinions are encouraged, but please stay on-topic and be respectful. Comments are subject to review for personal attacks or insults, discriminatory statements, hyperlinks not directly related to the discussion and commercial spam.