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.
Geraldine DeRuiter is the latter. But she won’t let that stop her.
Hilarious, irreverent, and heartfelt, All Over the Place chronicles the years Geraldine spent traveling the world after getting laid off from a job she loved. Those years taught her a great number of things, though the ability to read a map was not one of them. She has only a vague idea of where Russia is, but she now understands her Russian father better than ever before. She learned that what she thought was her mother’s functional insanity was actually an equally incurable condition called “being Italian.” She learned what it’s like to travel the world with someone you already know and love — how that person can help you make sense of things and make far-off places feel like home. She learned about unemployment and brain tumors, lost luggage and lost opportunities, and just getting lost in countless terminals and cabs and hotel lobbies across the globe. And she learned that sometimes you can find yourself exactly where you need to be — even if you aren’t quite sure where you are.
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!
What she didn’t know was that this diagnosis would lead her down some of the most excruciating years of her life before beginning her journey to recovery from eleven years of misdiagnosis and physical pain. She would need to find her courage to heal physically, mentally, and emotionally, and become the survivor she is today.
Set against the backdrop of the fast-paced fashion and entertainment industries, Bite Me shares the heartbreaking and hilarious stories that moved Ally forward on her journey from sickness to health. Its themes will be familiar to more than 300,000 Americans diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, many of whom, like Ally, wondered for years what was wrong with them. Bite Me offers readers hope and ideas for how one can transition from victim to survivor, and shares the spiritual principles and actions that have contributed to her wholeness as a human, mother, and international spokesperson against Lyme disease.
Home is where the heart is. Security, comfort, even love, are all feelings that are centered on the humble abode. But what if there is more to the feeling of being at home? Neuroanthropologist John S. Allen believes that the human habitat is one of the most important products of human cognitive, technological, and cultural evolution over the past two million years. In Home, Allen argues that to “feel at home” is more than just an expression, but reflects a deep-seated cognitive basis for the human desire to have, use, and enjoy a place of one’s own.
Allen addresses the very basic question: How did a place to sleep become a home? Within human evolution, he ranks house and home as a signature development of our species, as it emerged alongside cooperative hunting, language, and other critical aspects of humanity. Many animals burrow, making permanent home bases, but primates, generally speaking, do not: most wander, making nests at night wherever they might find themselves. This is often in home territory, but it isn’t quite home. Our hominid ancestors were wanderers, too — so how did we, over the past several million years, find our way home? To tell that story Allen will take us through evolutionary anthropology, neuroscience, the study of emotion, and modern sociology. He examines the home from the inside (of our heads) out: homes are built with our brains as much as with our hands and tools. Allen argues that the thing that may have been most critical in our evolution is not the physical aspect of a home, but developing a feeling of defining, creating, and being in a home, whatever its physical form. The result was an environment, relatively secure against whatever horrors lurked outside, that enabled the expensive but creative human mind to reach its full flowering. Today, with the threat of homelessness, child foster-care, and foreclosure, this idea of having a home is more powerful than ever.
In a clear and accessible writing style, Allen sheds light on the deep, cognitive sources of the pleasures of having a home, the evolution of those behaviors, and why the deep reasons why they matter. Home is the story about how humans evolved to create a space not only for shelter, but also for nurturing creativity, innovation, and culture — and why “feeling at home” is a fundamental aspect of the human condition.
In Eureka, science popularizer Chad Orzel argues that even the people who are most forthright about hating science are doing science, often without even knowing it. Orzel shows that science is central to the human experience: every human can think like a scientist, and regularly does so in the course of everyday activities. The common misconception is that science is a body of (boring, abstract, often mathematical) facts. In truth, science is a process: Looking at the world, Thinking about what makes it work, Testing your mental model by comparing it to reality, and Telling others about your results — all things that people do daily. By revealing the connection between the everyday activities that people do — solving crossword puzzles, playing sports, or even watching mystery shows on television — and the processes used to make great scientific discoveries, Eureka shows that this process is one everybody uses regularly, and something that anyone can do.
Are you hardwired for happiness, or born to brood? Do you think you’re in charge of your future, or do you surf the waves of unknowable fate? Would you be happier, or just less socially adept, if you were less concerned about what other people thought of you? And what about your “Type A” spouse: is he or she destined to have a heart attack, or just drive you to drink?
In the past few decades, new scientific research has transformed old ideas about the nature of human personality. Neuroscientists, biologists, and psychological scientists have reexamined the theories of Freud and Jung as well as the humanistic psychologies of the 1960s, upending the simplistic categorizations of personality “types,” and developing new tools and methods for exploring who we are. Renowned professor and pioneering research psychologist Brian R. Little has been at the leading edge of this new science. In this wise and witty book he shares a wealth of new data and provocative insights about who we are, why we act the way we do, what we can — and can’t — change, and how we can best thrive in light of our “nature.”
Me, Myself, and Us explores questions that are rooted in the origins of human consciousness but are as commonplace as yesterday’s breakfast conversation, such as whether our personality traits are “set” by age thirty or whether our brains and selves are more plastic. He considers what our personalities portend for our health and success, and the extent to which our well-being depends on the personal projects we pursue.
Through stories, studies, personal experiences, and entertaining interactive assessments, Me, Myself, and Us provides a lively, thought-provoking, and ultimately optimistic look at the possibilities and perils of being uniquely ourselves, while illuminating the selves of the familiar strangers we encounter, work with, and love.