How to Change Your Mind - Chapter 4 Summary

Chapter four, “Travelogue: Journeying Underground,” takes the reader through Pollan’s personal experiences with three different psychedelic compounds. Once psychedelics were categorized as class one substances, the use of psychedelics went underground. Many people were, and still are, interested in using psychedelics and seek to undertake psychedelic experiences under the watchful eye of an underground guide. Despite not being formally regulated, many underground guides adhere to strict standards when assisting individuals under the influence of psychedelics.

How to Change Your Mind - Chapter 2 Summary

Chapter two, “Bemushroomed,” covers the history of psychoactive mushrooms. In a laboratory setting, a synthetic version of the psilocybin molecule is prepared for research purposes rather than using a psilocybin containing mushrooms. Although synthetic psilocybin is more practical for research studies, the synthetic psilocybin molecule has become separated from its fungal origin. To better understand the mushrooms, specifically of the genus Psilocybe, Pollan teamed up with famous mycologist Paul Stamets.

How to Change Your Mind - Prologue and Chapter 1 Summary

The prologue of How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan serves to provide the reader with important context for both the content of the book as well as the more personal nature of the book for Pollan. The concept for the book came from research Pollan did while writing a New Yorker article about the use of psychedelics as medical treatment, specifically the use of a guided psilocybin session to help reduce anxiety around death for cancer patients.

Why We Sleep - Chapters 13-Conclusion Summary

The final section of the book covers the many ways that modern life has impacted how much we sleep. The invention of the light bulb has allowed us to restructure our daily schedules at the cost of our natural sleep cycles. Exposure to electric lights in the evening shifts the timing of our sleep schedules due to a delayed release of melatonin leading to later bedtimes. The more constant environmental temperatures afforded by central heating and cooling also alter our ability to sleep by reducing natural temperature changes that help aid in sleep.

Why We Sleep - Chapters 9-12 Summary

In chapters 9 - 11, Dr. Walker delves into the science of dreams. MRI scans taken while individuals dream during REM sleep show that certain areas of the brain, including those associated with spatial perception and emotion, are more active while individuals dream compared to during deep NREM sleep. Researchers have even been able to generally determine certain patterns of brain activity identified by an MRI in response to specific objects.

Why We Sleep - Parts One & Two Summary

Part one of Why We Sleep closes with a summary of how sleep patterns change with age. Babies and young children exhibit polyphasic sleep, where they sleep in small doses throughout the day and night compared to older children and adults who have more regular monophasic sleep. As humans age, there is also a decrease in the amount of time spent in REM sleep and an increase in NREM sleep. This pattern highlights the importance of NREM sleep as a driver of brain maturation.

Why We Sleep - Part One Summary

In part one, “This Thing Called Sleep,” Dr. Walker highlights sleep as a biological necessity and introduces us to basic sleep physiology. Inherently, we all know the importance of sleep but many of us do not know the true extent to which skimping on sleep or poor quality sleep affects our lives. Poor sleep is connected to complex health issues like weight gain as well as more obvious dangers such as traffic fatalities caused by driving while sleepy.

The Emperor of All Maladies - Part Five Summary

In part five of an Emperor of all Maladies, we learn about the discoveries that elucidated the mechanisms underlying the biology of cancer. Mukherjee starts the section with a reflection on his time as a medical oncology fellow, reminding the reader of the human costs of cancer as he and the other fellows reflect on the patients they have lost. We also get an update on his leukemia patient Carla, who is now in remission and through the worst of her treatments.

The Emperor of All Maladies - Part Three Summary

In part three of the Emperor of all Maladies, the treatment of cancer begins to shift from the previously seen extremes to being more patient centered. There is a rift in the field of surgery as surgeons such as Dr. Crile and Dr. Keynes begin to question the radical and disfiguring surgeries relied upon by an entire generation of surgeons to treat cancer.

The Emperor of All Maladies - Part Two Summary

The second part of Mukherjee’s compelling biography of cancer details the early stages of a war against cancer. The section begins by introducing a new protagonist in our story, Mary Lasker, the “fairy godmother” of cancer research. With friends in high places and an insatiable motivation to pour more money into battling diseases, she was the perfect teammate for Sydney Farber, who was looking to expand his own cancer research efforts.