Industrial-Sized Deals Best Books of the Month Shop Women's Handbags Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon $5 Albums Fire TV Stick Subscribe & Save Shop Popular Services tmnt tmnt tmnt  Amazon Echo Starting at $99 Kindle Voyage GNO Shop Back to School with Amazon Back to School with Amazon Outdoor Recreation Deal of the Day
THE ACCIDENTAL MIND and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

The Accidental Mind: How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God 1st Edition

54 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674030589
ISBN-10: 0674030583
Why is ISBN important?
ISBN
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for $6.18
Learn More
Trade in now
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy new
$17.53
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
List Price: $23.00 Save: $5.47 (24%)
29 New from $15.88
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Qty:1
The Accidental Mind: How ... has been added to your Cart
More Buying Choices
29 New from $15.88 17 Used from $13.11 1 Collectible from $17.00
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student


InterDesign Brand Store Awareness Rent Textbooks
$17.53 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

The Accidental Mind: How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God + Forty Studies that Changed Psychology (7th Edition) + Portraits and Persons
Price for all three: $100.49

Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The brain, that "cobbled-together mess," is the subject of this lively mix of solid science and fascinating case histories. Linden, a neuroscientist from Johns Hopkins University, offers "the Reader's Digest version" of how the brain functions, followed quickly by the "real biology," before tackling the big questions: Why are people religious? How do we form memories? What makes sleep so vital to mental health? Which is more important, nature or nurture? Linden tackles these problems head on, debunking myths (people do, in fact, use more than 10 percent of their brains) and offering interesting trivia (Einstein's brain was a bit on the small side) along the way. Anti-evolutionary arguments are answered in a chapter titled "The Unintelligent Design of the Brain," in which Linden proposes that it's the brain's "weird agglomeration of ad hoc solutions" that makes humans unique. The book's greatest strength is Linden's knack for demystifying biology and neuroscience with vivid similes (he calls the brain, weighing two percent of total body weight and using 20 percent of its energy, the "Hummer H2 of the body"). Though packed with textbook-ready data, the book grips readers like a masterful teacher; those with little science experience may be surprised to find themselves interested in-and even chuckling over-the migration of neurons along radial glia, and anxious to find out what happens next.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

This is a terrific book that accomplishes its aim of presenting a biological view of how the brain works, and does so in a charming, fetching style. (Joshua R. Sanes, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University)

This is the first scientific book I've read with "attitude." David Linden is something of a Howard Stern shock jock and there's a lot of heavy breathing in this overview of brain function and the linkage between psychological and brain processes. Linden is clearly a thoughtful scientist and this comes through in his excellent choice of facts and theories to present. This is a very intelligent book. (John Lisman, Professor of Biology, Brandeis University)

[A] lively mix of solid science and fascinating case histories... The book's greatest strength is Linden's knack for demystifying biology and neuroscience with vivid similes (he calls the brain, weighing two percent of total body weight and using 20 percent of its energy, the Hummer H2 of the body). Though packed with textbook-ready data, the book grips readers like a masterful teacher; those with little science experience may be surprised to find themselves interested in--and even chuckling over--the migration of neurons along radial glia, and anxious to find out what happens next. (Publishers Weekly (starred review) 2007-03-26)

More than another salvo in the battle over whether biological structures are the products of supernatural design or biological evolution (though Linden has no doubt it's the latter), research on our brain's primitive foundation is cracking such puzzles as why we cannot tickle ourselves, why we are driven to spin narratives even in our dreams and why reptilian traits persist in our gray matter. (Sharon Begley Newsweek 2007-04-09)

Linden tells his story well, in an engaging style, with plenty of erudition and a refreshing honesty about how much remains unknown. The book should easily hold the attention of readers with little background in biology and no prior knowledge of brains. It would make an excellent present for curious non-scientists and a good book for undergraduates who are just entering into the brain's magic menagerie. Even readers trained in neuroscience are likely to enjoy the many tidbits of rarely taught information--on love, sex, gender, sleep and dreams--that spice up Linden's main argument. The Accidental Mind stands out for being highly readable and clearly educational. No doubt, the human brain evolved along a constrained path and is, in some respects, designed imperfectly. Linden will send that message home...We still know too little about the brain's inner workings to judge how well it does its job. What we do know, and what The Accidental Mind helps us to realize, is that the human brain is not designed as many have imagined. (Georg Striedter Nature 2007-06-07)

The majority of this book is an enjoyable neurosciences primer for the general reader. Evolutionary and psychological perspectives provide occasional insights about the mind, but mostly the subject here is the organ capable of conjuring it into existence. Linden makes clear that the physical substrate of our mental phenomena--the squidgy and haphazard mass of our brain--is a gloriously evolved muddle. (Druin Burch Times Literary Supplement 2007-06-01)

Many popular neuroscience books emphasize the brain's complexity using terms of purpose: this region is for emotion, that one for vision, and so forth, each interacting in a perfectly designed whole. This ambitious, engaging, and often irreverent book by Linden adopts a quite different perspective, instead emphasizing the evolutionary origins of the human brain...The book...end[s] with a well-argued discussion of the tension between neuroscience and intelligent design. The emphasis on evolution is laudable...making this book an important counterpoint to breathless paeans to brain design. (S. A. Huettel Choice 2007-08-01)

For anyone interested in a skillfully guided tour through the world of neural function, The Accidental Mind is a playful yet academically informed work that addresses issues as diverse as intelligent design, the fallibility of the senses, the human religious impulse, and the possible heritability of sexual orientation. Without overwhelming the reader with the biochemical underpinnings of neural function, Linden explores the role that neural design (structure and function) has in the explication of various human behaviors. (Charles J. Alt History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 2007-12-01)

Linden provides an accessible and up to date guide through this maze [that is the brain]. (Steven Rose The Guardian 2008-12-27)

See all Editorial Reviews
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE


Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press; 1 edition (December 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674030583
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674030589
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David J. Linden is a Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His laboratory has worked for many years on the cellular substrates of memory storage in the brain and a few other topics. He has a longstanding interest in scientific communication and serves as the Chief Editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his two children. David's site and blog may be found at davidlinden.org

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 92 people found the following review helpful By John J. Turley on April 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With his book "The Accidental Mind", David Linden has given us a wonderful tour of our own brains. He describes this organ and its many interweaving functions 'from the ground up', carefully using terms and analogies that a non-scientist would understand. Dispelling the notion that the brain is either perfect or efficient, David examines this organ as it exists in animals and humans, with the focus on the latter. We begin with basic brain chemistry and mechanisms, and then delve chapter by chapter into such fascinating topics as memory, emotions, personality, sexuality, and dreams. As a professor at Johns Hopkins University, David has access to all the latest research. He covers each subject in just enough detail while leaving out the more technical aspects. This is not another dull textbook, as David laces it with both humor and the occasional personal anecdote. Near the end, David suggests why the human mind would believe in God. He delicately handles this contentious subject by not saying whether God exists (or not). Rather, David proposes reasonably why the mind would be inclined to believe.
10 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Steven A. Peterson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
David Linden's "The Accidental Mind" is a neat little book. He has two main purposes: (a) to write a readable introduction on brain science, accessible to nonspecialists; (b) to make the case that (page 6) `. . .the brain is an inelegant and inefficient agglomeration of stuff, which nonetheless works surprisingly well." As to the first point, this volume is a far cry from the magnificent work, Michael Gazzaniga's The Cognitive Neurosciences III: Third Edition. However, if one is not well steeped in knowledge and understanding of the neurosciences, Gazzaniga's edited work is close to impenetrable. This book is well and crisply written, explaining simply how neurons work the structure of the brain, how the brain develops, and so on.

As to the second point? He asserts that, quoting Francois Jacob (Page 6), "'Evolution is a tinkerer, not an engineer." That is, evolution operates on organisms as they are and then the process of change takes advantage of the material already existent to adapt to new conditions and challenges. Thus, the human brain is mounted on older, more primitive structures, in an ill fitting complex. As he says (page 21): "The brain is built like an ice cream cone (and you are the top scoop): Through evolutionary time, as higher functions were added, a new scoop was placed on top, but the lower scoops were left largely unchanged."

Thereafter, he speaks of the structure of the brain, how the fully mature human brain develops (with both nature and nurture having roles to play), how the brain is associated with all manner of emotions, learning, religion, and so on.

The Ninth chapter has a title that speaks directly to Linden's first theme--"The Unintelligent Design of the Brain.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Allen Mann on May 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is a good introduction to many of the things we know and don't know about how mammalian (especially human) brains work. I see it as a story, starting with some basic bio and neuro chemistry, hitting some brain architecture, and proceeding to touch on learning and memory, sleeping and dreaming, love, and even religion. The climax of the story is the "unintelligent" design of the brain and how it relates to arguments of intelligent design.

This book is fairly easy reading but is aimed at those with at lease some background in science. Prof. Linden is at the top of his game professionally and has a great sense of humor (check out the Absolut Purkinje on his web page at Johns Hopkins!). As you'd expect from a general intro, there isn't too much depth here. When you get hungry for more, The Quest for Consciousness by Christof Koch delivers the next step up in a technical overview of brain function and contains a much more extensive bibliography.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on April 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The greatest fear among those who reject Charles Darwin's "Dangerous Idea" is the implications the concept holds for human beings. Our brain, they often claim, demonstrates how far we are from the other animals. It must have been designed by "divine intelligence". Not so, says David Linden. Our brain is something cobbled together over millions of years, parts and functions being added over time to produce that kilogramme of matter in our heads. He likens the building-up process to a multi-scoop ice cream cone. In this finely written overview, he explains the brain's structure and functions, relating them to earlier sources with clarity and wit.

The bottom of the ice-cream cone is the brainstem, an ancient structure controlling much of the body's major systems like heartbeat and breathing. Many of the body's communication with the rest of the brain pass through this part. Above the brainstem is the cerebellum, the first "scoop". The cerebellum acts as a signal filter, inhibiting "expected" sensations like your clothing against your skin. When something detectable as not part of "normal" conditions arises, the cerebellum passes those signals to the rest of the brain. That's when the real action begins. Above the cerebellum lies the midbrain, which is the first recipient of visual and sound signals. In some animals, such as frogs, he notes, this is the primary sensory area. Our midbrain, Linden declares, is symbolic of what he calls "brain kludge". It's an archaic region retained from earlier ancestral creatures for very limited processes. Moving upward and forward we encounter two elements, the thalamus and hypothalamus, the former being a major relay station for signals within and to and from the brain.
Read more ›
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
The Accidental Mind: How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God
This item: The Accidental Mind: How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God
Price: $17.53
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Want to discover more products? Check out this page to see more: memory and dream