Book review: Building BrainPower

Posted: Friday, December 30, 2011 | Posted by Debajyoti Datta | Labels: 0 comments

I have got a copy of Dilip Mukerjea’s Building BrainPower: Turning Grey Matter into Gold as part of the BlogAdda book reviews program.

Lets start with the basics first – the book has been published by Westland, paperback, 314 pages and the marked price is Rs. 750. The paper and print quality is pretty good and I’m quite satisfied with the binding of the book, a necessity as the book is designed as a tool to be used and practiced. The author Dilip Mukerjea is the owner and Managing Director of Buzan Centre, Singapore.

The book is divided into five sections – the first section is about our brain – it’s a very good non-technical description covering evolution, neuroscience and a touch of neuroanatomy. The second part is devoted about the technique of Mind Mapping where the author shows you how to create and use an interconnected map of imagery and words to form a broad understanding and lasting impression about any topic. Here is the Wikipedia description of Mind Maps
“A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea…Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid to studying and organizing information, solving problems, making decisions, and writing.”

The best part about this is the hands on approach taken by the author. He lays out the principles at the beginning and then guides the reader through numerous examples. There are many examples of Mind Maps scattered throughout the book to help the beginner get an idea. The author advocates the use of plain paper while making Mind Maps but you can use software like FreeMind to prepare your mind maps.

The third part of the book deals with communication. There are numerous tables on different methods of communication – for example the sign language. This is followed by a section containing puzzles and their solutions, quite a few to keep the reader occupied.  The last section is titled “Additional thoughts” that contains a few more interesting facts and Mind Maps thrown in.

The Impression: The approach of the book – learning by doing, is quite good. The reader wouldn’t have any problem in following the author’s instructions. There are adequate problems to practice on. The first part describing the brain is a very good read. The use of colour in the Mind Maps and the level of detail the author delves into is commendable. For example, the author devotes 16 pages to guide the reader in constructing their first Mind Map. You can’t get any more guidance than that. The difference form other self help books (from my limited exposure to self help books) is that the author is very clear on one thing – you need to practice to get it right and I quite agree with that. There is one thing I would crib about – I didn’t fully grasp the point of making a separate section on Communication, sure the facts are interesting but it doesn’t add anything to the technique of Mind Mapping.

The verdict: The book quite serves its purpose. If you are planning to learn Mind Mapping, this book is quite a good resource with all its exercises and detailed guidance.

CoI – I received this book free of cost as part of BlogAdda book review program.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

On the death of Infants

Posted: Saturday, December 3, 2011 | Posted by Debajyoti Datta | Labels: , 0 comments


The recent controversy and allegations over the infant death in the BC Roy Post-Graduate Institute of Paediatric Sciences demands that we examine the issue critically. Every death is lamentable but we should also recognize that every death is not preventable unless action is taken in a timely manner. Only by examining what went wrong we can begin to rectify them.

Image Courtesy : Rana2030

Various reports from the media state that initially 12 infants died within a period of 48 hours and later 3 more deaths occurred in the third day taking the toll to 17 infants in 3 days (1, 2).

The role of the media here calls for criticism. What the media is trying to report is the rate of infant death but it is meaningless unless we know how many infants were admitted in the hospital in these days. The media failed to mention the prevailing infant mortality rate in the hospital. Was the death rate in these 3 days significantly higher than the prevailing death rate? Without this crucial information any reporting of the incident only helps in polarizing and sensationalizing the issue and is of no real help.

Let us look at some data. I couldn’t find data specifically for the hospital in question but data was available for another hospital in the city (3). Although it is not ideal, we can use it as a proxy for the absent data from the hospital in question. A total of 1216 infants were admitted to a tertiary care hospital in a year. 286 died, making the infant mortality rate 23.52%/year which is pretty high. Consider this, if 20 infants were admitted everyday for 3 days, we can expect that a total of 14 would have died. This example of course has several limitations. For starters we don’t know how many infants were actually admitted to the hospital in question. We don’t know the prevailing infant mortality in the hospital. It may so happen babies who were very sick and couldn’t be managed elsewhere were referred to the BC Roy hospital as it is a specialized hospital. What I want to say with this example is that we can’t draw any meaningful conclusion from what the media reported though it is a sensitive issue on which we should have an informed opinion.

The knee-jerk response of the government is also unfortunate. The solution that the government proposes is opening of more Sick Newborn Care Units all across the state. This is commendable but we should realize that this constitutes what the public health doctors term as secondary prevention, meaning taking early action after the disease/event has already occurred. A better way is primary prevention which aims at preventing the disease/event from happening at the first place. Primary prevention demands long term commitment from the all the parties involved. Let us look at the common causes of hospitalized infant deaths in the city – septicemia, birth asphyxia, prematurity, acute respiratory tract infections, meningitis, congenital anomalies, congenital heart defects etc (3).

If we examine the risk factors for the causes of infant death, we can see that many of them are preventable. For example higher paternal education significantly decreases the risk of birth asphyxia. Low birth weight is an established risk factor for birth asphyxia and chronic mater malnutrition is one of the major causes of low birth and prematurity. Poor prenatal care, low socioeconomic status, low birth weight and birth asphyxia itself are causes of septicemia in infants (4, 5, 6).

There are few factors which if controlled will lead to a decreased incidence of the diseases affecting neonates and by extension a reduction in the infant deaths. Maternal nutrition, proper antenatal checkups, improvement in the socioeconomic and living standards of the mothers, proper education of the parents are some of the areas where improvement will lead to a better outcome. This, in conjunction with improved secondary prevention strategies will hopefully prevent further occurrences of such incidences in future.

Conflict of interest – I had attended few lectures of Dr. DK Paul, Superintendent of BC Roy Post-Graduate Institute of Paediatric Sciences when he was posted at my college.

References:

  1. MARCUS DAM. Four more crib deaths in Kolkata hospital, 12 in Bardhaman hospital. The Hindu. October 29, 2011
  2. Infant deaths in B C Roy hospital again. The Telegraph. 26th October, 2011.
  3. Roy, RabindraNath. (2008) Mortality pattern of hospitalized children in a tertiary care hospital of Kolkata. Indian Journal of Community Medicine, 33(3), 187
  4. Lee, A. CC. (2008-05-01) Risk Factors for Neonatal Mortality Due to Birth Asphyxia in Southern Nepal: A Prospective, Community-Based Cohort Study. PEDIATRICS, 121(5), e1381-e1390.
  5. Anderson-Berry AL. Neonatal Sepsis. Medscape Reference.
  6. Paul VK, Singh M, Sundaram KR, & Deorari AK. (1997) Correlates of mortality among hospital-born neonates with birth asphyxia. The National medical journal of India, 10(2), 54-7.