Another Day in the Frontal Lobe

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 March, 2007, 12:00am

Another Day in the Frontal Lobe

by Katrina S. Firlik

Phoenix, HK$144

I once spent a day with a neurosurgeon to get an idea of the demands of this unforgiving profession. Up close, the brain is a pinkish, glistening mass peeking through a hole in its tough shell. Neurosurgeon Katrina Firlik likens it to the consistency of tofu, at once delicate and resilient to the touch. In Another Day in the Frontal Lobe, published last year as Brain Matters, she describes her job as 'part scientist, part mechanic'. The technical stuff is fascinating - from high-tech knives and microscopes to heavy-duty drills only a little more advanced than the Incas used, to experimental magnetic stimulation to boost higher brain functions. Fascinating, too, are her case stories, such as the building site worker shot in the head with a nail gun. Firlik is less successful writing about her life outside neurology, which is rather dull by comparison. There are no Oliver Sacks-like insights. Firlik, who teaches at Yale University and maintains a private practice, is enthusiastic about technology, and it's that enthusiasm she ultimately communicates best.