Book Review

Brain Sense: The Science of the Senses and How We Process the World Around Us
by Faith Hickman Brynie
Reviewed by Marilyn Cook, M.S., ET/P

NOTE: This book review originally appeared on the NSTA Recommends web site and is reprinted with permission.

What senses are you using right this minute? What information are you processing? Is it visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or gustatory? What organ are you using? Brain Sense will help you understand. This 274-page, hard cover reference is especially good because it's written in a readable style.

Despite the limitations of its black-and-white diagrams, this would be a good resource for a classroom or school library. Author Faith Hickman Brynie has written award-winning books for younger students, and her writing style shows through in sidebars about interesting topics like aromatherapy and chocolate cravings. Extensions tell readers about topics such as synesthesia and the paranormal. High school or upper junior high school students will find this book intriguing if they can get past the its rather intimidating length and lack of interesting graphics.

The author has put together information from both working neuroscientists and ordinary people who are living with senses that have been diminished. Their stories help readers to understand the senses from different perspectives. Interesting sidebars cover topics like “Two Sides of the Visual Coin,” “Different Types of Memories,” and “a Taste for (Tasteless) Calories.” An appendix with information about the brain and the nervous system is included with diagrams that are easy to read.

The author recommends excellent resources including books, articles, and websites. I have used many of the websites that are listed in my teaching and in a lunch-and-learn group as we study all different kinds of learning challenges from a neuroscience perspective. There is also an extensive index. I will use this book as a reference for our group as we get ready for our celebration of Brain Awareness Week in March.

Sometimes we know so little about how we know that knowing how we know is actually enlightening. How did I write this review? What senses did I use? Did my brain really have a mind of its own while writing this? I’m going to reread to (hopefully) find out.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Marilyn Cook, M.S., ET/P, professional educational therapist who works as a reading/district dyslexia specialist for K-12 students in the Port Aransas (Texas) Independent School District.