July 12, 2004 12:00 PM

By Diane Ackerman

Poet and naturalist Diane Ackerman (A Natural History of the Senses) ponders personality, gender, emotion and language in this intriguing tour of the human brain. Among the lyrically described highlights: There is a half-second time lag between “perceiving something and becoming conscious of it.” In Ackerman’s hands, what could have been an “if it’s Tuesday this must be the hippocampus blur” instead leaves readers with nuanced understanding of—and gratitude for—that “wrinkled wardrobe of selves” that makes us all tick.

NONFICTION

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