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Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain Hardcover – November 17, 2020
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“An excellent education in brain science…[Feldman Barrett] deftly employs metaphor and anecdote to deliver an insightful overview of her favorite subject… so short and sweet that most readers will continue to the 35-page appendix, in which the author delves more deeply, but with no less clarity, into topics ranging from teleology to the Myers-Briggs personality test to ‘Plato’s writings about the human psyche.’ Outstanding popular science.”—Kirkus, STARRED
"What about that 'three-pound blob between your ears'? In seven essays about the brain and a half-size one about its evolution…Barrett has crafted a well-written tribute to this wow-inducing organ."—Booklist
“Beautiful writing and sublime insights that will blow your mind like a string of firecrackers. If you want a rundown of the brain and its magic, start here.”—David Eagleman, Stanford neuroscientist, New York Times bestselling author of Incognito and Livewired
"Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain reads like a novel—one whose main character is all of us. In fresh and lively prose, Barrett provides deep insight into what brains are for, how they operate and are programmed, how they create the ‘reality’ we experience, and how they ultimately produce our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Read this book! It will make you smarter about yourself, and your species."—Leonard Mlodinow, New York Times bestselling author of The Drunkard’s Walk, Subliminal, and Elastic
“A radical and provocative look at a range of pervasive misconceptions, emerging discoveries, and enticing mysteries regarding our very nature as individuals and intertwined social beings. By illuminating our unimaginably complex, constantly changing brain/body networks, Barrett gets to the heart of the new understanding of who and what we are as creatures, and how much latitude and agency we have."—Jon Kabat-Zinn, Founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), author of Full Catastrophe Living and The Healing Power of Mindfulness
"Lisa Feldman Barrett is a pioneer in neuroscience and one of today’s most provocative thinkers about the mind. Get ready to have yours blown."—Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take
"A smart and delightfully breezy look at the things most of us think we know about the brain, but don't."—Daniel Gilbert, New York Times bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness
"Barrett writes with a scientist's eye and a storyteller's heart. A must-read for anyone who has a brain."—Helen S. Mayberg, Professor of Neurology, Neurosurgery, Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
"One of the best short, whirlwind introductions to the human brain I've ever read….[Feldman Barrett] is one of the most brilliant and bold thinkers and scientists I've ever had the pleasure of speaking with."
– Lex Fridman, Lex Fridman Podcast
“[A] must-read science book. Neuroscientist Barrett takes readers on a journey from the first earthly creatures, through the musings of ancient philosophers, and to present-day neuroscience.”—Discover Magazine
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Hardcover : 192 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0358157145
- ISBN-13 : 978-0358157144
- Dimensions : 5 x 0.77 x 7.5 inches
- Publisher : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (November 17, 2020)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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"Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain" is divided into two main parts: The Lessons and the Appendix. The Lessons are written in a conversational style that is easy to read and understand. Her examples are very useful and well presented. The Lessons can be read by anyone, whether they have a background in science or not. The Appendix gives scientific justification for the conclusions in the Lessons. A reader does not need to read the Appendix to benefit fro the Lessons, but I think it added a lot of useful information. So, my recommendation is to read the corresponding portion of the Appendix immediately after that Lesson, rather than reading all Lessons and then the whole Appendix.
The topics in this book are very interesting. They will help you understand how your brain works and how much our understanding of the brain has improved in recent years. So, read it, and read it soon, because in a few years, more advancements will be made, and Dr. Barrett will need to write a new book.
articulated with artisanal clarity. This book is a beautiful blend of science, philosophy, and social commentary. A must read!
Lisa Feldman Barrett's scientific nuggets create a two-way conversation between the expert and the reader who becomes aware of their own social reality and ethical responsibility towards other (developing) brains. A gripping and timely piece of writing much needed to get beyond survival mode for becoming more humane.
In her previous book, How Emotions are Made, Dr. Barrett laid out a revolutionary theory of behavior, experience, and emotion, and Seven and a Half Lessons about the Brain is no different: eminently readable prose, lushly textured with crisp social and scientific insight, delivering in just a few hours the product of decades of scientific insights, leaving you with sufficient inspiration for years of thought and inquiry. Whether you're a professor or an undergrad student, a parent or just starting out, a teacher or a businessperson, if you're a human being, this is the book for you.
This is one of those books that make you want to stop very frequently to share some tidbit with your long-suffering spouse (Of course, he found them as much fun as I did.). For example, there was a very insightful discussion of the impact of “body budgeting” on empathy, explaining why at the brain level it is harder to empathize with people who are less familiar to you. I especially enjoyed hearing about a study that found that if you are exposed to social stress within two hours of a meal, your body metabolizes the food in a way that adds 104 calories to the meal, which could add up to 11 pounds gained in a year if it happens daily!
Each essay covers a different subject, such as “Your Brain Predicts (Almost) Everything You Do”, and I enjoyed them all. My favorite, though, was “Your Brain Secretly Works with Other Brains”, which showed how we affect each other pervasively at the most basic levels.
As the author also says, this is NOT a full tutorial on the brain, but there is a fair amount of discussion of brain structure and similar subject in the first lesson or two, so be prepared. In order to express complex concepts, she uses a lot of metaphors, like when she compares the brain’s wiring arrangement to the global air-travel system. The metaphors were clever and apt, but I sometimes had trouble imagining them. This was the only flaw I found in an otherwise fascinating book that I will be recommending to all my friends.
My thanks to Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an advance copy of this book..