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Search Results for: the idea of the brain

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The Idea of the Brain

The Idea of the Brain



An “elegant”, “engrossing” (Carol Tavris, Wall Street Journal) examination of what we think we know about the brain and why — despite technological advances — the workings of our most essential organ remain a mystery.

“I cannot recommend this book strongly enough.”–Henry Marsh, author of Do No Harm

For thousands of years, thinkers and scientists have tried to understand what the brain does. Yet, despite the astonishing discoveries of science, we still have only the vaguest idea of how the brain works. In The Idea of the Brain, scientist and historian Matthew Cobb traces how our conception of the brain has evolved over the centuries. Although it might seem to be a story of ever-increasing knowledge of biology, Cobb shows how our ideas about the brain have been shaped by each era’s most significant technologies. Today we might think the brain is like a supercomputer. In the past, it has been compared to a telegraph, a telephone exchange, or some kind of hydraulic system. What will we think the brain is like tomorrow, when new technology arises? The result is an essential read for anyone interested in the complex processes that drive science and the forces that have shaped our marvelous brains.

Brain Dump

Brain Dump

Edited by Running Press
Have you had enough of the vexation that accompanies losing the greatest comeback to your office nemesis? Are you sick of the irritation that follows forgetting the idea that would have made you the next Bill Gates? And it’s all because you’ve been stranded on the john without pen and paper! Often our best ideas strike when we’re distracted by mundane tasks like doing the dishes, driving, or taking a dump. That’s where this journal-slash-activity book comes in. With Brain Dump, you’ll have the perfect bathroom companion right at your fingertips so you can jot down all your best thoughts, fancies, and frustrations.

Alongside journaling pages so you can write down all your brilliant ideas and practice your best doodles, Brain Dump also includes poo-provoking writing prompts — How would you bring about world peace? and What’s your long-term poo plan? — fun facts, brain- teasing puzzles like Sudupoo, and plenty of space to document your poo and help get things moving smoothly. For those moments when nature calls and you’re either suddenly struck with inspiration or stuck sitting on the porcelain throne consumed with boredom, Brain Dump is here to save the day!
The Mommy Brain

The Mommy Brain

Generations of mothers have been told — and believed — that having a baby means checking their own brains at the delivery room door. “The Mommy Brain” usually refers to a head full of feeding times, soccer schedules, and nursery rhymes, at the expense of creative or challenging ideas. But recent scientific research paints a dramatically different and far rosier picture. Journalist Katherine Ellison draws on cutting-edge neuroscience research to demonstrate that, contrary to long-established wisdom that having children dumbs you down, raising children may make moms smarter . From enhanced senses in pregnancy and early motherhood to the alertness and memory skills necessary to manage like a pro, to a greater aptitude for risk-taking and a talent for empathy and negotiation, these advantages not only help mothers in raising their children, but in their work and social lives as well. Filled with lively (and often hilarious) stories of multitasking moms at home and on the job, The Mommy Brain encourages all of us to cast aside conventional thinking and discover the positive ways in which having children changes mothers’ brains for the better.
The Ravenous Brain

The Ravenous Brain

Consciousness is our gateway to experience: it enables us to recognize Van Gogh’s starry skies, be enraptured by Beethoven’s Fifth, and stand in awe of a snowcapped mountain. Yet consciousness is subjective, personal, and famously difficult to examine: philosophers have for centuries declared this mental entity so mysterious as to be impenetrable to science.In The Ravenous Brain, neuroscientist Daniel Bor departs sharply from this historical view, and builds on the latest research to propose a new model for how consciousness works. Bor argues that this brain-based faculty evolved as an accelerated knowledge gathering tool. Consciousness is effectively an idea factory — that choice mental space dedicated to innovation, a key component of which is the discovery of deep structures within the contents of our awareness.This model explains our brains”; ravenous appetite for information — and in particular, its constant search for patterns. Why, for instance, after all our physical needs have been met, do we recreationally solve crossword or Sudoku puzzles? Such behavior may appear biologically wasteful, but, according to Bor, this search for structure can yield immense evolutionary benefits — it led our ancestors to discover fire and farming, pushed modern society to forge ahead in science and technology, and guides each one of us to understand and control the world around us. But the sheer innovative power of human consciousness carries with it the heavy cost of mental fragility.Bor discusses the medical implications of his theory of consciousness, and what it means for the origins and treatment of psychiatric ailments, including attention-deficit disorder, schizophrenia, manic depression, and autism. All mental illnesses, he argues, can be reformulated as disorders of consciousness — a perspective that opens up new avenues of treatment for alleviating mental suffering.A controversial view of consciousness, The Ravenous Brain links cognition to creativity in an ingenious solution to one of science’s biggest mysteries.
The Political Brain

The Political Brain

The Political Brain is a groundbreaking investigation into the role of emotion in determining the political life of the nation. For two decades Drew Westen, professor of psychology and psychiatry at Emory University, has explored a theory of the mind that differs substantially from the more “dispassionate” notions held by most cognitive psychologists, political scientists, and economists — and Democratic campaign strategists. The idea of the mind as a cool calculator that makes decisions by weighing the evidence bears no relation to how the brain actually works. When political candidates assume voters dispassionately make decisions based on “the issues,” they lose. That’s why only one Democrat has been re-elected to the presidency since Franklin Roosevelt — and only one Republican has failed in that quest.

In politics, when reason and emotion collide, emotion invariably wins. Elections are decided in the marketplace of emotions, a marketplace filled with values, images, analogies, moral sentiments, and moving oratory, in which logic plays only a supporting role. Westen shows, through a whistle-stop journey through the evolution of the passionate brain and a bravura tour through fifty years of American presidential and national elections, why campaigns succeed and fail. The evidence is overwhelming that three things determine how people vote, in this order: their feelings toward the parties and their principles, their feelings toward the candidates, and, if they haven’t decided by then, their feelings toward the candidates’ policy positions.

Westen turns conventional political analyses on their head, suggesting that the question for Democratic politics isn’t so much about moving to the right or the left but about moving the electorate. He shows how it can be done through examples of what candidates have said — or could have said — in debates, speeches, and ads. Westen’s discoveries could utterly transform electoral arithmetic, showing how a different view of the mind and brain leads to a different way of talking with voters about issues that have tied the tongues of Democrats for much of forty years — such as abortion, guns, taxes, and race. You can’t change the structure of the brain. But you can change the way you appeal to it. And here’s how
How Brains Think

How Brains Think

If you’re good at finding the one right answer to life’s multiple-choice questions, you’re “smart.” But “intelligence” is what you need when contemplating the leftovers in the refrigerator, trying to figure out what might go with them; or if you’re trying to speak a sentence that you’ve never spoken before. As Jean Piaget said, intelligence is what you use when you don’t know what to do, when all the standard answers are inadequate. This book tries to fathom how our inner life evolves from one topic to another, as we create and reject alternatives. Ever since Darwin, we’ve known that elegant things can emerge (indeed, self-organize) from “simpler” beginnings. And, says theoretical neurophysiologist William H. Calvin, the bootstrapping of new ideas works much like the immune response or the evolution of a new animal species — except that the brain can turn the Darwinian crank a lot faster, on the time scale of thought and action. Drawing on anthropology, evolutionary biology, linguistics, and the neurosciences, Calvin also considers how a more intelligent brain developed using slow biological improvements over the last few million years. Long ago, evolving jack-of-all trades versatility was encouraged by abrupt climate changes. Now, evolving intelligence uses a nonbiological track: augmenting human intelligence and building intelligent machines.
Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain

Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain

Emperor Mollusk.

Intergalactic Menace. Destroyer of Worlds. Conqueror of Other Worlds. Mad Genius. Ex-Warlord of Earth.

Not bad for a guy without a spine.

But what’s a villain to do after he’s done . . . everything. With no new ambitions, he’s happy to pitch in and solve the energy crisis or repel alien invaders should the need arise, but if he had his way, he’d prefer to be left alone to explore the boundaries of dangerous science. Just as a hobby, of course.

Retirement isn’t easy though. If the boredom doesn’t get him, there’s always the Venusians. Or the Saturnites. Or the Mercurials. Or . . . well, you get the idea. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s also the assassins of a legendary death cult and an up-and-coming megalomaniac (as brilliant as he is bodiless) who have marked Emperor for their own nefarious purposes. But Mollusk isn’t about to let the Earth slip out of his own tentacles and into the less capable clutches of another. So it’s time to dust off the old death ray and come out of retirement. Except this time, he’s not out to rule the world. He’s out to save it from the peril of THE SINISTER BRAIN!
Bright Air, Brilliant Fire

Bright Air, Brilliant Fire

We are on the verge of a revolution in neuroscience as significant as the Galilean revolution in physics or the Darwinian revolution in biology. Nobel laureate Gerald M. Edelman takes issue with the many current cognitive and behavioral approaches to the brain that leave biology out of the picture, and argues that the workings of the brain more closely resemble the living ecology of a jungle than they do the activities of a computer. Some startling conclusions emerge from these ideas: individuality is necessarily at the very center of what it means to have a mind, no creature is born value-free, and no physical theory of the universe can claim to be a ”theory of everything” without including an account of how the brain gives rise to the mind. There is no greater scientific challenge than understanding the brain. Bright Air, Brilliant Fire is a book that provides a window on that understanding.
Brainwashed

Brainwashed

This provocative account of our obsession with neuroscience brilliantly illuminates what contemporary neuroscience and brain imaging can and cannot tell us about ourselves, providing a much-needed reminder about the many factors that make us who we are.

What can’t neuroscience tell us about ourselves? Since fMRI — functional magnetic resonance imaging — was introduced in the early 1990s, brain scans have been used to help politicians understand and manipulate voters, determine guilt in court cases, and make sense of everything from musical aptitude to romantic love. <br
>In Brainwashed, psychiatrist and AEI scholar Sally Satel and psychologist Scott O. Lilienfeld reveal how many of the real-world applications of human neuroscience gloss over its limitations and intricacies, at times obscuring — rather than clarifying — the myriad factors that shape our behavior and identities. Brain scans, Satel and Lilienfeld show, are useful but often ambiguous representations of a highly complex system. Each region of the brain participates in a host of experiences and interacts with other regions, so seeing one area light up on an fMRI in response to a stimulus doesn’t automatically indicate a particular sensation or capture the higher cognitive functions that come from those interactions. The narrow focus on the brain’s physical processes also assumes that our subjective experiences can be explained away by biology alone. As Satel and Lilienfeld explain, this “neurocentric” view of the mind risks undermining our most deeply held ideas about selfhood, free will, and personal responsibility, putting us at risk of making harmful mistakes, whether in the courtroom, interrogation room, or addiction treatment clinic.

Although brain scans and other neurotechnologies have provided groundbreaking insights into the workings of the human brain, Brainwashed shows readers that the increasingly fashionable idea that they are the most important means of answering the enduring mysteries of psychology is misguided — and potentially dangerous.
The True Path

The True Path

In The True Path, Duke psychiatrist Roy J. Mathew draws on his own extensive knowledge of neuroscience as he looks at the centuries-old Indian idea that spirituality is a state of mind-a higher form of consciousness. Mathew shows how the latest brain research demonstrates that activities such as prayer, music, art, nature, intuitive knowledge, altruism, and meditation stimulate the non-dominant hemisphere of the brain. Spirituality is intimately connected to this area of the brain and must be accessed-according to Indian philosophy-by removing the “sheaths” of everyday life. With scientific evidence that this “pure consciousness” truly exists, Mathew shows readers how to use meditation, yoga, and other traditional methods of contemplation to achieve this spiritual state of mind.
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