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Mind Hacks: Tips & Tools for Using Your Brain Paperback – December 2, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0596007799 ISBN-10: 0596007795 Edition: 1st

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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: #319,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

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Customer Reviews

In short, this is a very interesting read.
Bradley Bevers
Each "hack" is also cross-referenced very well with the other similar hacks, so you can bounce all over the book reading about various aspects of brain function.
Eric Wuehler
This book points out the mechanics of your sensory perceptions interacting with different parts of your brain.
John C. Coale

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

174 of 181 people found the following review helpful By Jack D. Herrington on 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 By John A. Suda VINE VOICE on 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 By Bromo on April 30, 2006
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 By W Boudville HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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