I only gave this book two cups and to be honest I thought about only giving it one cup. The book has a lot of good information about the brain and how it works. However, much of the information is best guess in nature; we think this and we think that, because other animals' brains function this way... I understand that we don't know exactly how the brain works, so to a certain extent I expected this from the book. My problem is in that statement, however, the part about 'other animals'.
I will be the first to admit I knew going into this book that the authors were not Christians, or at least I suspected so and that means that they probably believe in evolution. So the read a few minor things about evolution would not have bothered me too badly. This was not the case, it often seemed like evolution was mentioned ever two pages or more often. Not just your standard, 130 million years ago stuff, although that was there too, but things like; we are not sure why evolution decided to make us like this. That is not a direct quote, but the idea is there several times. The authors give evolution a lot of credit, but it is credit far beyond the bounds of what evolution is believed to have done, even if one believes in evolution. Now maybe they didn't mean for it to come off like that, but it did.
Let me quote one time from the book to show what I mean; on pages 160 and 161 you find this in reference to autism: "One question is why the genetic factors that underlie autism would persist in the population. It's possible that individually, the genes confer some benefit. For example, autistic people tend to be very good with details, perhaps because of a lack of higher control from the frontal cortex. A small number of people in the population with an exceptional ability to focus on tasks could be a good thing for society." Now you might wonder what that has to do with evolution, but if you read the rest of the book you would see that they are saying, why didn't evolution eliminate autism. As if evolution is making decisions and since society as a whole gains something from autistic people, evolution decided to allow it to remain with us. Yes this is subtle but it is throughout the book.
Am I being too hard on them? I don't think so, since evolution by definition happens by random chance, then if there is some planning, it leads one toward belief in Intelligent Design, doesn't it? You never hear that from the authors. So if you want to read a book that will give you some good information on the brain and how it functions, and don't mind either ignoring or believing all the evolution references, this is a good book to read. If you are weak in your faith, I would recommend not reading the book, because the very fact that it is written by a couple of PhD's might make you question whether they are right about everything, even though it is obvious much is just regurgitated evolution theory without any true scientific proof.
Neuroscientists Aamodt, editor-in-chief of Nature Neuroscience, and Wang, of Princeton University, explain how the human brain—with its 100 billion neurons—processes sensory and cognitive information, regulates our emotional life and forms memories. They also examine how human brains differ from those of other mammals and show what happens to us during dreams. They also tackle such potentially controversial topics as whether men and women have different brains (yes, though what that means in terms of capabilities and behavior, they say, is up in the air) and whether intelligence is shaped more by genes or environment (genes set an upper limit on people's intelligence, but the environment before birth and during childhood determines whether they reach their full genetic potential). Distinguishing their book are sidebars that explode myths—no, we do not use only 10% of our brain's potential but nearly all of it—and provide advice on subjects like protecting your brain as you get older. The book could have benefited from a glossary of neurological terms and more illustrations of the brain's structure. Still, this is a terrific, surprisingly fun guide for the general reader.