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Mind Hacks: Tips & Tools for Using Your Brain [Paperback]

by Tom Stafford, Matt Webb
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 2, 2004 0596007795 978-0596007799 1

The brain is a fearsomely complex information-processing environment--one that often eludes our ability to understand it. At any given time, the brain is collecting, filtering, and analyzing information and, in response, performing countless intricate processes, some of which are automatic, some voluntary, some conscious, and some unconscious.

Cognitive neuroscience is one of the ways we have to understand the workings of our minds. It's the study of the brain biology behind our mental functions: a collection of methods--like brain scanning and computational modeling--combined with a way of looking at psychological phenomena and discovering where, why, and how the brain makes them happen.

Want to know more? Mind Hacks is a collection of probes into the moment-by-moment works of the brain. Using cognitive neuroscience, these experiments, tricks, and tips related to vision, motor skills, attention, cognition, subliminal perception, and more throw light on how the human brain works. Each hack examines specific operations of the brain. By seeing how the brain responds, we pick up clues about the architecture and design of the brain, learning a little bit more about how the brain is put together.

Mind Hacks begins your exploration of the mind with a look inside the brain itself, using hacks such as "Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Turn On and Off Bits of the Brain" and "Tour the Cortex and the Four Lobes." Also among the 100 hacks in this book, you'll find:

  • Release Eye Fixations for Faster Reactions
  • See Movement When All is Still
  • Feel the Presence and Loss of Attention
  • Detect Sounds on the Margins of Certainty
  • Mold Your Body Schema
  • Test Your Handedness
  • See a Person in Moving Lights
  • Make Events Understandable as Cause-and-Effect
  • Boost Memory by Using Context
  • Understand Detail and the Limits of Attention
Steven Johnson, author of "Mind Wide Open" writes in his foreword to the book, "These hacks amaze because they reveal the brain's hidden logic; they shed light on the cheats and shortcuts and latent assumptions our brains make about the world." If you want to know more about what's going on in your head, then Mind Hacks is the key--let yourself play with the interface between you and the world.

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Mind Hacks: Tips & Tools for Using Your Brain + Mind Performance Hacks: Tips & Tools for Overclocking Your Brain
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Editorial Reviews

Review

The authors have compiled a fascinating ?collection of probes into the moment-by-moment works of the brain?. From getting to know the structure of your brain to learning how we see, hear and recall events, Mind Hacks allows you to test the theories of neuroscience on your own grey matter. If you?ve always wanted to get closer to your cerebellum but never plucked up the courage to take that DIY neurosurgery course, this is the book for you.? ? PD Smith, The Guardian, 15 Jan 2005

About the Author

Tom Stafford has a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience and is currently a research associate in the Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield. He is also an associate editor of the Psychologist magazine and has previously worked as a freelance writer and researcher for the BBC. Matt Webb's background is in new media. His freelance activities include an IM interface to Google, which predated the Google API and is included in O Reilly s Google Hacks. He launched a project to find the Web's favorite color that was featured on BBC News Online and national newspapers in the UK. His current job in R&D at the BBC involves these kinds of projects internally, and gives him experience at addressing abstract social and technological ideas to mixed audiences. He was a popular speaker at O Reilly's Emerging Technology Conference in 2004.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 396 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (December 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596007795
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596007799
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
173 of 180 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a hacks book, interesting though December 28, 2004
Format:Paperback
This isn't really a hacks book per se. It's a set of 100 small vignettes on the brain and on neuroscience. I found surprisingly little on how to change the behavior of your brain. Or practical ways to focus your attention, to become smarter or faster. That's what I was hoping to see. Though what I see instead is interesting all on it's own.

If you are interested in neuroscience, or the function of the brain. And little games of tweaking your perception that you probably learned in Psych 101 and hen forgot. You will probably like this book.

Though I should also mention On Intelligence (0805074562) from Times Books. That book explains the nature and function of intelligence as a coherent story, and doesn't suffer from being shoeboxed into a Hacks series form like this book does.
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117 of 127 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting popular science of the brain December 17, 2004
Format:Paperback
If you ever wondered why your brain and your computer's brain don't seem to be in synch, I can refer you to a hundred reasons why. Check out the book, "Mind Hacks: Tips and Tools for Using Your Brain".

This book sets out in layman's terms the enormous developments in the brain sciences in the last two decades, which have lead to an apparent debunking of the metaphor of the brain as a logical, linear, information processor and has elevated the role of biological, emotional, and psychological elements in the understanding of perception. The book asks the reader to explore the architecture of his own brain by sampling the exercises in perception in the book. The intent is to foster a new appreciation of the way the brain (now differently conceived) shapes the reality one perceives.

The impetus for this examination and reevaluation comes from the world of technology, especially because of those tools which test, measure, and scan the brain during experimental acts of perception and behavior. Tools such as electroencephalograms, positron emission tomography, and functional magnetic resonance imaging now allow scientists to see the biological bases of perception via real-time brain scans. Examples of such studies are contained in the various "hacks" in this book, as distinct illustrations of the brain's hidden (biologically-based) logic. The authors emphasize that perception is far from straightforward and the brain in some ways has a life of its own.

Author Tom Stafford is a cognitive neuroscientist. The other primary co-author, Matt Webb, is an engineer and designer. Many of the "hacks" have been contributed by a large handful of others, mostly from the world of natural science research.
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun book April 30, 2006
By Bromo
Format:Paperback
It is not a typical "hacks" book in that it does not tell you how to utilize you brain more effectively or do neat things. It *does* have a lot of exercises that show you cool things on how your brain works with sections describing how your brain works - and a number of experiments (blind spot, Magnet interaction with the brain, word parsing in the the mind, and so on). This book goes very well with a recent title called _Mind Wide Open_ by Steven Johnson.

If you want traditional "hacks" the book "Mind Performance Hacks" just came out, and is chock full of those sorts of experiments, while less informative, does do things like memory tricks, meath calculation, creativity enhancement and so on.

I view "Mind Hacks" as more informative, though, so would recommend this as the first one to get, though the next purchase in this should be the "Mind Performance Hacks."
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a wetware book December 7, 2004
Format:Paperback
Remember those optical illusions you read in books as a kid? If these were school books, they probably gave no deeper explanation than to say that these were just tricks that the mind played on itself. Now, this book offers to take you into a deeper understanding of those and other related phenomena.

The book is totally at variance with the other O'Reilly Hacks books. Those concern various hardware and software. Whereas Stafford and Webb discuss the wetware of your brain. Much of the text should be familiar to biology and psychology students. But not to programmers. The authors summarise what they consider salient concepts about the brain, in general language. Along with references to research papers in journals and websites. All this is shoehorned into the format of a Hacks book. Which is quite unlike a standard biology text layout. So the book is unconventional in several ways.

One of the hacks is famous in maths. There are three doors. Behind one is a prize, while the other two have goats [i.e. no prize]. You pick a door. Then the umpire looks behind the other 2 doors and opens one that has a goat. So do you switch doors or not, in order to maximise your chances of getting the prize?

You may well find the book unsatisfying. The authors make it plain that much remains unknown about the brain. A conceptual incompleteness that cannot be avoided in any text. Other Hacks books might have a solution to a hack that is code, say. Well, either it works or it does not. And if it works [the usual case], then that is that. Whereas in this book, an answer to a hack does give more information, but may often beg for deeper clarification that no one can furnish.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting
full of interesting information but all of the information i already knew so the book has little to no value
Published 7 months ago by dr
2.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I expected
I saw this book advertises on Think Geek and they made it look like a more fun book, but it turned out to be a bit thick.
Published 8 months ago by Simon
5.0 out of 5 stars Tips and tools for using your brain.
An enlightening collection of probes into the workings of our brains. It provides a better understanding of how our brain function.
Published 12 months ago by GateTree
4.0 out of 5 stars very good
it is a delightful book, zesty fun informative. I haven't finished due to ...life. but more than halfway through and as a cognitive sort i have found this information useful, not... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Victor C. Demunck
4.0 out of 5 stars Some useful games
I got this to use for some fun "games" for a college course. It takes some sorting through but it was useful.
Published 14 months ago by zfinch
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
This book is very detailed and very insightful, it can become dry at times, but that's because it has so much information that is needed to understand such a great topic.
Published 16 months ago by Gerhart Hauptman-diaz
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not very practical bits about how your mind works.
Points about how the brain works that aren't that practical to really use. The authors know the subject very well. I was looking for more practical applications.
Published 18 months ago by D7's purchase review
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read but boring
I found the hacks interesting but there's no value in knowing them (not all of them).

but it gets boring since the book is big.
Published 22 months ago by Ali
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read to understand Self
Equivalent to about 250M 'cores' (Synapses), and 10 hz processing power, our brain has evolved to process visual, auditory and contextual signals over millions of years. Read more
Published on June 18, 2011 by Nilendu Misra
4.0 out of 5 stars How to Hack Your Mind & Others
Although there is not very much "new" information here, its great to have it all compiled in one book. Read more
Published on June 9, 2011 by Bradley Bevers
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