last updated:

February 5, 2021

[Brain Image]    

PSY 340 Brain and Behavior

Extra-Credit Option A: Book Review


Extra-Credit Option A

The syllabus contains the following extra-credit option:
Students may read one non-fiction book directly related to the issue of brain and behavior. Preference is given for the books of Drs. Oliver Sacks, Temple Grandin, or Alexander Luria, though I would consider another author's book. Dr. Sacks was a contemporary neurologist who worked with people with brain injury. He died in 2015. He wrote a number of books which contain excellent & fascinating readings which complement the materials of this course. Dr. Grandin who was herself diagnosed with autism has written both a memoir and a book which reflects her famous understanding of animal behaviors. Dr. Luria was a Soviet-era clinical neuropsychologist who write important texts on the effects of brain damage as well as case reports of unusual brain conditions.  In order to gain extra credit, you would be expected to read the book and write a 5- to 10-page book review (typed with APA format as described below). See me if you elect to take this option. The grade on this option can then substitute for the lowest grade on any of the four exams. The titles of the eligible books are:

  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (Sacks)
  • Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (Sacks)
  • An Anthropologist on Mars (Sacks)
  • The Island of the Colorblind (Sacks)
  • Seeing Voices: A Journey into the World of the Deaf (Sacks)
  • Awakenings (Sacks)
  • Migraine (Sacks)
  • The Mind's Eye (Sacks)
  • Hallucinations (Sacks)
  • Thinking in Pictures and Other Reports from My Life with Autism (Grandin)
  • Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior (Grandin)
  • The Mind of a Mnemonist (Luria)
  • The Man with a Shattered World (Luria)
  • The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog [focuses on childhood trauma & abuse, loss, love, and brain development] (Bruce Perry & Maia Szalavitz)

If you have another book to suggest, you need to speak with me directly.

Specific Instructions
What is the educational goal for this option/assignment? I hope you learn more about specific and, indeed, fascinating ways in which damage to the body's biological systems and, in particular, neurological difficulties reveal important realities about the underlying physical bases of many psychological functions. Most readers have found these books to be particularly fascinating. If you can suggest a different book than one listed here, I would be open to considering your reading it.

You should read the book with these questions in mind:
  1. What does the author tell me about the biological bases of psychology that I didn't know before?
  2. Am I struck in particular by specific new insights or examples that I found in the book?
  3. Does anything the author write about lead me to think about connections to experiences in my own life or the experiences of those whom I know?
  4. Does anything the author writes about lead me to wonder or think about something I hadn't thought about before?
  5. What are the strongest and the weakest qualities of the book that I read?
When you prepare your book review, I hope that you will answer some or most of these five questions in a well-organized and thought-out essay. You must also include at least a summary of the book's contents. I will take into account the quality of your writing including spelling and grammatical usage.

The mechanics of each book report must include the following:
  • The length of each report should be at least 5 (but no more than 10) typewritten pages double-spaced.
  • Each page should have margins between 1 and 1.5 inches.
  • Your typeface should be 10-, 11-, or 12-point in size. 
  • The lines of each paragraph should be aligned left (that is, the right side of all your lines should not extend all the way to the right margin, but remain jagged; do not use “justification” to fill across the page).
  • All pages of the report must be paginated.
  • The pages of each report must to be stapled together in the upper left corner.
  • Your name and email address must be printed on the top of the first page.
  • The name of the book you are reviewing and its author needs to be printed right below your name/email address in APA format before you begin your actual review.
  • If you cite any references or resources other than the book, you must use APA format.
  • Any direct quotes from the book must be put between quotation marks. At the end of the quotations, you should put in the page number(s) by using the abbreviation "p. xx" or "pp. xx-xx" where xx stands for a page number.
  • You should presuppose that any reference is to the book you are reviewing. Hence, you should NOT cite the book itself in APA style inside your report as you would for another reference. Something like "(Sacks, 1982, p. 2)" should NOT be used in your report if you are reviewing Sack's 1982 book.
Reports are due at the last exam you take. They should be sent to me at the exam or, with my permission, at a later time. I will substitute the grade you get on the review for the single lowest test mark you receive among the course's four exams.


This page was first posted March 8, 2007