- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 8 hours and 54 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Random House Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: May 31, 2011
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0053ET3WO
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain Audiobook – Unabridged
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Looking forward to read more of this authors books since knowing how ,why human beings act and all incógnitos that there are inspite of all the important discoveries of this century is amazing.
Incognito, The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman, a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine, explores the hidden aspects of the brain. The premise of the book is that the conscious mind is the tip of the iceberg, and that the unconscious brain is an incredible complex and multilayered organ responsible for the vast majority of our actions, outside our willful control. By analyzing the various methods our unconscious brain dictates and influences our behavior, Eagleman seeks to introduce the reader to the vast world of cognitive neuroscience and psychology. Although there are many aspects of the brain that are not fully understood, Eagleman presents his ideas clearly along with research and observations from other scientists.
Style and Structure
Overall, Incognito was an interesting read. The style of the book is that each chapter explores a facet of the unconscious brain, from our senses to what your name might do with your personality to how our brain adapts automatically to new situations. Eagleman explains concepts using simple to understand comparisons and bases his ideas in real world incidents. For example, Eagleman discusses the idea of the brain consisting of rival components. He used Mel Gibson's drunken anti-Semitic controversy throughout Chapter 5, which I talk about later in this review, as an example of whether there are separate yet connected parts of our mind that rival the personality that we normally show to the world. However, I felt at some parts that there were too many anecdotes in a chapter and I felt disconnected from the overall concept. This book is written like a collection of short stories, and is very slim on technical jargon so the reader will not feel too encumbered or lost.
Chapter 2 "The Testimony of the Senses: What Is Experience Really Like?"
"Your brain is in the dark, but your mind constructs light." In essence, this is the purpose of all our sensory systems. Eagleman discusses such concepts like vision, perception, and illusion in order to describe the way our brain transforms the electrical signals from our receptor cells into a vivid environment. Eagleman begins the chapter by investigating the difference between seeing and vision. What you see is not decided by your eyes, but you see with your brain instead. He also talks about active vision, where your brain actively seeks to extract information from the world. The concept of active sensing also can apply to the other senses, as well as time. As a result, people who were blind can still perceive the world through the other senses, such as touch or sound. I liked the example of Bach y Rita's experiments and about Mike's experiences with regaining his lost sight.
Chapter 3 "Mind: The Gap"
In this chapter, Eagleman discusses the role of implicit memory in affecting our actions. An example that I found to be very relatable was when he explained how the brain initially devoted many resources to learn a new activity, but after repeating the activity, the brain devoted little energy to it. The brain developed new machinery in order to efficiently complete the task. He used a new video game as an example. At first, you concentrate very hard in order to learn the controls. However, after you know the ropes, your brain does not devote as much energy to that particular task. This ultimately shows the adaptability and plasticity of the brain.
Chapter 5 "The Brain Is a Team of Rivals"
The central concept of this chapter is how your brain is in conflict with itself. Eagleman suggests that the brain is always debating with itself in determining the decisions and actions that you take. There can be several factions with different opinions that must work together to reach a solution, so called a "team of rivals". One analogy that Eagleman used was the jury from 12 Angry Men. He discusses the idea of multiple opposing systems in the context of desire, morality, and emotions vs. rationality. In addition to generating conflict, the "team of rivals" exists to help reach a more robust and flexible solution to problems. For example, people who have challenged their brain through old age are able to stave off the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease due to their brain forming many alternate neural pathways that are required to solve complex problems. The lack of a clear and simple solution to puzzles and similar games forces the brain to argue with itself, increasing the flexibility and strength of the brain; this whole idea is called cognitive reserve. The primary lesson from this chapter is that the brain is a collection of systems that work together to drive our actions, as well as cause us to think that we are in control of most of what we do. In fact, the brain functions mostly free from our conscious input, but in the end, our conscious mind is what ultimately prevails. I thought this chapter was the best in the book.
Overall Opinion and Recommendations
In conclusion, Incognito reveals the depths and diversity of our brain. After reading it, I felt awed by how vast the role of the unconscious brain is. Despite what we presently know, there are still many things that are unknown. In the scope of things, the three pound wrinkled gooey organ is the culmination of us as a species, and for every new connection we make, a thousand more mysteries reveal themselves. The quote at the beginning of Incognito, "Man is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness from which he emerges and the infinity in which he is engulfed" from Blaise Pascal, aptly describes the current state of humans. For people who are not studying neuroscience, this is an excellent book to gain a basic understanding of how the brain works. For students or scientists who have had previous experience with neuroscience topics, this book can serve as an excellent refresher. Unfortunately, for those looking for a difficult or more detailed discussion, this book may be simplistic. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the way Eagleman explained complicated ideas so the average person can understand.
This book treats these questions in a style and manner that is accessible to all; well written, full of interesting anecdotes, studies, examples; but also raising the eternal questions of "free will", "guilt". The author is not only a neuroscientist who knows how to write for the general public but also interested and involved in legal questions of culpability, methods of punishment and education.
The book should really be read by EVERYBODY who is interested in more than soap operas and late night shows. It teaches humility but also makes us marvel at the way we ARE able to study and slowly understand our most important organ.
It"s even been translated into French, if you are not ready to read it in the original version, so don't hesitate!
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Fascinating account of what neuroscience and psychology have discovered about our illusions that we...Read more
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