‘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
‘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
‘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.’
Jennifer Senior, The New York Times
‘Astonishing, brave … Switched On details Robison’s discovery of his rich new emotional life … 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.’
Amy Ellis Nutt, The Washington Post
‘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
‘[H]onest, scientific, personal, and full of rock and roll … After Robison was diagnosed with Asperger's 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 … Robison's memoir contains as much vulnerability and honesty as it does discussions of neuroscience and autism.’
‘A fascinating companion to the previous memoirs by this masterful storyteller.’
‘Both memoir and neurological study — and, no doubt about it, neurology is a trending new reading topic.’
Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘Robison’s approachable account is not only crystal clear, but exciting and full of promise.’
‘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.