‘For the first time in my life, I learned what it was like to truly "know" other people's feelings. 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 colour.’
People with autism have trouble reading the unspoken signals of others. The conventional wisdom says they don't have the wiring in their brains to do it. But now, thanks to astounding advances in brain-mapping technologies, a revolutionary new brain therapy called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is being pioneered at Harvard Medical School.
In Switched On, we follow New York Times bestselling author and ‘free-range Aspergian’ John Elder Robison as he journeys towards having his emotional intelligence ’unlocked‘ by this remarkable new treatment. Led by Harvard professor Dr Pascual-Leone, TMS uses an electromagnetic field to induce signals in the outer layer of the brain, to help autistic people develop the ability to read other people's unspoken emotional cues.
Astonishingly, TMS represents a new frontier of scientific possibility for people with autism spectrum disorders, as well as those living with depression, bi-polar disorder, and other conditions. John Robison’s story of how he came to awaken the dormant pathways inside his mind is remarkably compelling and entirely unique, but this is also a book about the remarkable advances in the way we view, and treat, a variety of psychological conditions.
Switched On is a real-life Flowers for Algernon with a happy ending — a compelling memoir that blends Robison’s brilliant storytelling and humour with cutting-edge neuroscience, electronics, and a little bit of rock and roll.
‘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
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‘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
‘Writing with a simple eloquence that is, by turns, poignant and comic, Robison deftly weaves neuroscience into a compelling narrative.’
Paul Biegler, Sydney Morning Herald
‘Robison’s approachable account is not only crystal clear, but exciting and full of promise.’