Brain Pickings

The Mind’s Eye: How We Use Vision to Understand the World


Nearly a decade ago, legendary neurologist Oliver Sacks told the story of the man who mistook his wife for a hat, which went on to become one of pop culture’s best-known tales of the brain’s incredible machinery. This season, Sacks is back with The Mind’s Eye, a fascinating exploration of how we use vision to make sense of the world.

With his signature blend of scientific illumintion and human interest storytelling, Sacks presents the curious case histories of six people for whom vision played bizarre tricks on the brain — from a writer who develops “word blindness” and becomes incapable of reading his own writing to his own experience with cancer in the eye, which made him unable to perceive depth.

Above all, Sacks approaches these fascinating case studies with extraordinary empathy, which makes The Mind’s Eye as much the brilliant work of a scientist as it is the touching gift of a humanist.

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