Into the Gray Zone: A Neuroscientist Explores the Mysteries of the Brain and the Border Between Life and Death

Category: Book
By (author): Owen, Adrian
  MEDICAL / Neuroscience
  PSYCHOLOGY / General
  SCIENCE / Cognitive Science
Publisher: Scribner
Published: June 2018
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 336
Size: 8.37in x 5.50in
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Additional Notes

From The Publisher*In this "riveting read, meshing memoir with scientific explication" (Nature), a world-renowned neuroscientist reveals how he learned to communicate with patients in vegetative or "gray zone" states and, more importantly, he explains what those interactions tell us about the working of our own brains.

"Vivid, emotional, and thought-provoking" (Publishers Weekly), Into the Gray Zone takes readers to the edge of a dazzling, humbling frontier in our understanding of the brain: the so-called "gray zone" between full consciousness and brain death. People in this middle place have sustained traumatic brain injuries or are the victims of stroke or degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Many are oblivious to the outside world, and their doctors believe they are incapable of thought. But a sizeable number-as many as twenty percent-are experiencing something different: intact minds adrift deep within damaged brains and bodies. An expert in the field, Adrian Owen led a team that, in 2006, discovered this lost population and made medical history. Scientists, physicians, and philosophers have only just begun to grapple with the implications.

Following Owen's journey of exciting medical discovery, Into the Gray Zone asks some tough and terrifying questions, such as: What is life like for these patients? What can their families and friends do to help them? What are the ethical implications for religious organizations, politicians, the Right to Die movement, and even insurers? And perhaps most intriguing of all: in defining what a life worth living is, are we too concerned with the physical and not giving enough emphasis to the power of thought? What, truly, defines a satisfying life?

"Strangely uplifting…the testimonies of people who have returned from the gray zone evoke the mysteries of consciousness and identity with tremendous power" (The New Yorker). This book is about the difference between a brain and a mind, a body and a person. Into the Gray Zone is "a fascinating memoir…reads like a thriller" (Mail on Sunday).
Review Quote*"Riveting and strangely uplifting . . . the testimonies of people who have returned from the gray zone evoke the mysteries of consciousness and identity with tremendous power."
-The New Yorker
Review Quote*"Astonishing . . . ground-breaking research . . . Science as an act of adventure, and also rescue. Owen is intrepid, and vulnerable. It never feels less than miraculous when he pulls a fellow human out of the dark."
-The Times (UK) Book of the Week
Review Quote*"[A] fascinating memoir . . . The Gray Zone reads like a thriller as [Owen] recounts his and his teams' efforts to explore [the] ‘gray zone' . . . Owen's enthusiasm for his science crackles from the pages. His determination to fight for the scores of voiceless gray-zone patients he encounters, to prove they're ‘thinking, feeling people' is hugely thought-provoking and deeply moving."
-Mail on Sunday (UK)
Review Quote*"Ground-breaking . . . a fascinating and accessible account of cutting-edge science, and of those whose lives have been altered in an instant . . . ?Owen's enthusiasm for his subject is infectious . . . This book will be required reading for anyone sitting by a loved one's bedside, caregivers, doctors, ethicists, lawyers and philosophers."
-Sunday Times (UK)
Review Quote*"A fascinating and highly readable book, written with evangelical fervor . . . gripping and moving."
-New Statesman 
Review Quote*"Into the Gray Zone weaves a fascinating tale using medical data, heart-wrenching case studies and [Owen's] own personal experiences."
-Good Housekeeping 
Review Quote*"[A] remarkable book . . . Through examinations of human brains damaged by trauma, tumors, infections and vascular accidents, [Owen] attempts to explore the nature of consciousness . . . [his] experiments have allowed vegetative-state patients with residual consciousness to connect with the external world."
-Literary Review (UK)
Review Quote*"Meshing memoir with scientific explication, Owen reveals how functional magnetic resonance imaging can probe the deep space of trapped minds. It's a riveting read, from the march of technology and tests for neural responses-such as imagining playing a game of tennis-to extraordinary personal accounts of the 'gray zone' by partially recovered patients."
-Nature magazine
Review Quote*"Although he has written hundreds of research papers about his work, Into the Gray Zone is Owen's first book pulling it altogether in fast-paced prose. Readers should prepare to be educated, yes. But more satisfyingly, they should prepare to be fascinated, astonished and, at times, moved to tears."
-Winnipeg Free Press