John Elder Robison grew up feeling left out. Lacking social skills and alienated from his peers because of his inability to relate to their emotions, he took refuge in his competence with machines, working as a music technician and ultimately building a successful auto repair business. It wasn't until he was in his forties that he was diagnosed with autism - and some years later, he enrolled in a medical study that explored a potential treatment for the condition, especially autism's most socially alienating feature: difficulty recognizing emotions in others.
In Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening, Robison describes his experiences with the experimental brain therapy TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation). He tells of the remarkable changes he encountered, from powerful memories of music and its emotional pull, to a new sense of his customers' emotions that helped him in his business, to his heightened sensitivity to his wife's depression that created a rift in their relationship. He also discusses in detail the neurological science that he researched while undergoing the treatment, making Switched On more than just a fascinating look into the autistic brain - it's also an insightful examination of how all our minds work. - Michelle (Sunset)