How does the brain produce the mind? The question gave rise to the beginnings of neuroscience in the 17th century. Thomas Willis, one of the founder members of the Royal Society, was a doctor who studied the brain in exquisite detail for the first time. Carl Zimmer gives the historical background to brain science at its crude beginnings and makes very thoughtful connections to modern brain science. I liked particularly his sensitive treatment of the relatively recent finding that the brain has a hard-wired network that underlies our human ability to attribute mental states to other people (‘Theory of mind’). It is precisely this ability that seems to be faulty in autism.