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Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening
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An extraordinary memoir about the cutting-edge brain therapy that dramatically changed the life and mind of John Elder Robison, the New York Times bestselling author of Look Me in the Eye

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST

Imagine spending the first forty years of your life in darkness, blind to the emotions and social signals of other people. Then imagine that someone suddenly switches the lights on.
It has long been assumed that people living with autism are born with the diminished ability to read the emotions of others, even as they feel emotion deeply. But what if we’ve been wrong all this time? What if that “missing” emotional insight was there all along, locked away and inaccessible in the mind?
In 2007 John Elder Robison wrote the international bestseller Look Me in the Eye, a memoir about growing up with Asperger’s syndrome. Amid the blaze of publicity that followed, he received a unique invitation: Would John like to take part in a study led by one of the world’s foremost neuroscientists, who would use an experimental new brain therapy known as TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation, in an effort to understand and then address the issues at the heart of autism? Switched On is the extraordinary story of what happened next.
Having spent forty years as a social outcast, misreading others’ emotions or missing them completely, John is suddenly able to sense a powerful range of feelings in other people. However, this newfound insight brings unforeseen problems and serious questions. As the emotional ground shifts beneath his feet, John struggles with the very real possibility that choosing to diminish his disability might also mean sacrificing his unique gifts and even some of his closest relationships. Switched On is a real-life Flowers for Algernon, a fascinating and intimate window into what it means to be neurologically different, and what happens when the world as you know it is upended overnight.
Praise for Switched On
“An eye-opening book with a radical message . . . The transformations [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 . . . 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.”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.”BookPage
“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
“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...
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Street Date:
03/22/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780812996906
ASIN:
B00RKO6N1Y
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APA Citation (style guide)

John Elder Robison. (2016). Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening. Random House Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

John Elder Robison. 2016. Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening. Random House Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

John Elder Robison, Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening. Random House Publishing Group, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

John Elder Robison. Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening. Random House Publishing Group, 2016.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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title
Switched On
fullDescription
An extraordinary memoir about the cutting-edge brain therapy that dramatically changed the life and mind of John Elder Robison, the New York Times bestselling author of Look Me in the Eye

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST

Imagine spending the first forty years of your life in darkness, blind to the emotions and social signals of other people. Then imagine that someone suddenly switches the lights on.
It has long been assumed that people living with autism are born with the diminished ability to read the emotions of others, even as they feel emotion deeply. But what if we’ve been wrong all this time? What if that “missing” emotional insight was there all along, locked away and inaccessible in the mind?
In 2007 John Elder Robison wrote the international bestseller Look Me in the Eye, a memoir about growing up with Asperger’s syndrome. Amid the blaze of publicity that followed, he received a unique invitation: Would John like to take part in a study led by one of the world’s foremost neuroscientists, who would use an experimental new brain therapy known as TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation, in an effort to understand and then address the issues at the heart of autism? Switched On is the extraordinary story of what happened next.
Having spent forty years as a social outcast, misreading others’ emotions or missing them completely, John is suddenly able to sense a powerful range of feelings in other people. However, this newfound insight brings unforeseen problems and serious questions. As the emotional ground shifts beneath his feet, John struggles with the very real possibility that choosing to diminish his disability might also mean sacrificing his unique gifts and even some of his closest relationships. Switched On is a real-life Flowers for Algernon, a fascinating and intimate window into what it means to be neurologically different, and what happens when the world as you know it is upended overnight.
Praise for Switched On
“An eye-opening book with a radical message . . . The transformations [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 . . . 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.”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.”BookPage
“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
“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...
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Simon Baron-Cohen, professor, Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University
      • content: "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."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        February 29, 2016
        Robison's second memoir is honest, scientific, personal, and full of rock and roll. It follows his life after the years recounted in his 2007 memoir, Look Me in the Eyes, and reads in many ways like a coming-of-age novel. After Robison was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, he participated in an experimental transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) study, which changed his life. Robison reflects on what he learned while delving into the science behind autism treatment and celebrating the people who were with him through truly difficult moments along a path of self-discovery. He emphasizes that the TMS treatment is new and experimental, and though his experiences are mostly positive and the treatment has real potential, not everyone who undergoes it responds the same way. Robison's memoir contains as much vulnerability and honesty as it does discussions of neuroscience and autism.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        December 15, 2015
        The bestselling author shares his experience as a participant in a cutting-edge study of the effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation on the brains of people on the autism spectrum. A team of Harvard neuroscientists hoped that stimulating the outer layer of the brain might induce it to rewire itself and increase its emotional IQ. Robison (Raising Cubby: A Father and Son's Adventures with Asperger's, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives, 2013, etc.) explains that those on the autism spectrum are not unemotional or uncaring but rather lack self-awareness and the ability to read and respond empathetically to the emotions of others. They miss cues such as tone of voice and facial expression. Because of this, their responses may be inappropriate. Robison relates how, despite his success in a number of fields, he was frustrated by his social disability, which hampered his social relationships. In his youth, he engineered sound and lighting systems for leading rock groups, and he went on to a corporate job designing electronic games. Currently, he owns a business restoring high-end automobiles. In the past decade, the author has also gained recognition as a writer and consultant on autism. For six months, Robison received TMS on a weekly basis. Before and after, he was tested at the lab and also discussed his experience of the treatment with the scientists. He had always loved music but in an abstract way; now, when listening, he felt intense emotions. The author writes movingly of how his response to other people developed a depth previously lacking, and his own responses became more expressive. Within this new mindset, his wife's chronic depression induced a painfully depressed feeling in him, and for the first time, he recognized subtle mockery from someone he thought to be a friend. Although his emotions flattened out somewhat after the sessions ended, he has experienced a lasting emotional sensitivity. He is optimistic about the direction of the research. A fascinating companion to the previous memoirs by this masterful storyteller.

        COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        March 1, 2016
        Robison, who shared his late-life diagnosis and life as an Asperger's patient in Look Me in the Eye (2007), continues with his experiences as a volunteer in a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) experiment. Like most Asperger's patients, he struggles to move beyond the literal in conversation and read emotional nuances in social interactions. In the TMS experiment, researchers attempt to rewire the brain by pinpoint electrical shocks to carefully selected locations in the hope of stimulating those abilities. Robison's reactions are eye-opening, if temporary. The music-technician-turned-car-mechanic is suddenly able to detect emotion within the music. Reading brings him to tears. His wife's depression becomes overwhelming to him. His carefully controlled world is suddenly rocked, and he finds himself reexamining his life and relationships. Robison has an uncanny ability to describe his thoughts and feelings and is painfully honest about the pluses and minuses of the experience. 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.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        November 1, 2015

        Robison's New York Times best-selling Look Me in the Eye memorably allowed us to understand what life is like for someone with autism. Now he takes us further, explaining what happened after he agreed to undergo an out-there new brain therapy known as TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation. The therapy allowed him to experience others' feelings as he hadn't before yet left him troubled about his past life and current relationships. Both memoir and neurological study--and, no doubt about it, neurology is a trending new reading topic.

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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An extraordinary memoir about the cutting-edge brain therapy that dramatically changed the life and mind of John Elder Robison, the New York Times bestselling author of Look Me in the Eye

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST

Imagine spending the first forty years of your life in darkness, blind to the emotions and social signals of other people. Then imagine that someone suddenly switches the lights on.
It has long been assumed that people living with autism are born with the diminished ability to read the emotions of others, even as they feel emotion deeply. But what if we’ve been wrong all this time? What if that “missing” emotional insight was there all along, locked away and inaccessible in the mind?
In 2007 John Elder Robison wrote the international bestseller Look Me in the Eye, a memoir about growing up with Asperger’s syndrome. Amid the blaze of...
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