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Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening
John Elder Robison
Random House / Softcover / Feb 2017
9780812986648 (ISBN-10: 0812986644)
Biography and Memoir / Neuroscience
price: $24.00 (may be subject to change)
320 pages
Not in Stock, usually ships in 3-6 business days

A “fascinating” (Kirkus) memoir about the cutting-edge brain therapy that dramatically changed the life and mind of the New York Times bestselling author of Look Me in the Eye.

Robison’s bestselling memoir Look Me in the Eye is one of the most widely read and beloved accounts of life with autism. In Switched On, John shares the second part of his journey, pushing the boundaries of scientific discovery as he undergoes an experimental brain therapy known as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.

TMS drastically changes John’s life. After forty years of feeling like a social misfit—either misreading or missing other people’s emotions completely—John can suddenly sense a powerful range of emotion in other people as a result of the treatments: “It was as if I’d been experiencing the world in black and white all my life, and suddenly I could see everything—and particularly other people—in brilliant, beautiful color.” This shows him a side of life he had never known, but also a darkness that threatens to overcome him. In this real-life Flowers for Algernon, he grapples with the possibility that choosing to diminish his disability might also mean sacrificing his unique gifts and some of his closest relationships. Switched On is an intimate window into what it means to be neurologically different, and what happens when the world as you know it is upended overnight.

“Switched On is an eye-opening book with a radical message…. The transformations [John Elder Robison] undergoes throughout the book are astonishing—as foreign and overwhelming as if he woke up one morning with the visual range of a bee or the auditory prowess of a bat.”—The New York Times

“Astonishing, brave…Switched On reads like a medical thriller and keeps you wondering what will happen next…. [Robison] takes readers for a ride through the thorny thickets of neuroscience and leaves us wanting more. He is deft at explaining difficult concepts and doesn’t shy from asking hard questions. This is a truly unusual memoir—both poignant and scientifically important.”—The Washington Post

“Fascinating for its insights into Asperger’s and research, this engrossing record will make readers reexamine their preconceptions about this syndrome and the future of brain manipulation.”—Booklist

“Like books by Andrew Solomon and Oliver Sacks, Switched On offers an opportunity to consider mental processes through a combination of powerful narrative and informative medical context. Readers can put their hands, for a moment, on the mystery that is the brain.”—BookPage

“A fascinating companion to the previous memoirs by this masterful storyteller.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Switched On is a mind-blowing book that will force you to ask deep questions about what is important in life. Would normalizing the brains of those who think differently reduce their motivation for great achievement?”—Temple Grandin, author of The Autistic Brain

“John Elder Robison is an extraordinary guide, carefully elucidating the cutting-edge science behind this revolutionary new brain therapy, TMS, alongside the compelling story of the impact it has on his relationships, his thinking and emotions, and indeed his very identity. At the heart of Switched On are fundamental questions of who we are, of where our identity resides, of difference and disability and free will, which are brought into sharp focus by Robison’s lived experience.”—Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Effect

“In this fascinating book John Elder Robison raises deep questions: What does TMS do to the brain? Will it permanently change his experience of music, his emotions, and his ability to read faces? And if autism involves disability as well as talent, if we alter the different wiring in an autistic brain, is this a good thing? Robison’s honest, brilliant, and very personal account helps us understand the perspective of someone living with autism.”—Simon Baron-Cohen, professor, Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University

“In Switched On, John Robison has written a remarkable, engaging, and moving story…. His astonishing story of transformation, of overcoming disability and deriving benefit from an experimental intervention that completely changed his life, is rife with inspiring lessons for each of us. It is a strikingly moving personal narrative about the nature of emotion, and about the opportunities afforded us when we seek to understand neurological difference.”—Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD, from the foreword

JOHN ELDER ROBISON is a world-recognized authority on life with autism, and the New York Times bestselling author of Look Me in the Eye, Be Different, and Raising Cubby. Robison is the Neurodiversity Scholar in Residence at the College of William & Mary, and he serves on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, which produces the U.S. government’s strategic plan for autism spectrum disorder research, as well as committees and boards for the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and INSAR. A machine aficionado and avid photographer, Robison lives with his family in Amherst, Massachusetts.

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