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The Brain: The Story of You
     

The Brain: The Story of You

5.0 1
by David Eagleman
 

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Locked in the silence and darkness of your skull, your brain fashions the rich narratives of your reality and your identity. Join renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman for a journey into the questions at the mysterious heart of our existence. What is reality? Who are “you”? How do you make decisions? Why does your brain need other people? How is

Overview

Locked in the silence and darkness of your skull, your brain fashions the rich narratives of your reality and your identity. Join renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman for a journey into the questions at the mysterious heart of our existence. What is reality? Who are “you”? How do you make decisions? Why does your brain need other people? How is technology poised to change what it means to be human?  In the course of his investigations, Eagleman guides us through the world of extreme sports, criminal justice, facial expressions, genocide, brain surgery, gut feelings, robotics, and the search for immortality.  Strap in for a whistle-stop tour into the inner cosmos. In the infinitely dense tangle of billions of brain cells and their trillions of connections, something emerges that you might not have expected to see in there: you. 
 
This is the story of how your life shapes your brain, and how your brain shapes your life. 

 
(A companion to the six-part PBS series. Color illustrations throughout.)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/12/2015
Neuroscientist and novelist Eagleman (Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain) reports on many big, recent neuroscience developments in this deceptively simple look at the universe's most complex known object: the human brain. Much of Eagleman's work covers scientists' ever-increasing appreciation of human brain plasticity. He addresses how brains rewire themselves in response to practice and discusses devices that help the brain regain damaged functions such as vision and hearing. Eagleman also shows how new technologies have revealed the reach and limits of human empathy, noting that seeing others in physical pain lights up the same neurons activated by experiencing physical pain directly—though they light up less brightly when the observed victims are from a different social group. Those same brain areas even light up in response to emotional rejection. Remarking that human brains are essentially "peripheral plug-and-play devices," Eagleman shows that no matter what sort of data comes in, "the brain figures out what to do with it." And he effectively unveils the stunning degree to which "we can now hack our own hardware" in order to understand, and better, ourselves. This is a straightforward, stimulating companion book to the PBS series on the subject. Illus. (Oct.)
Library Journal
★ 11/15/2015
Eagleman, the author and presenter of a new six-hour PBS series, The Brain, offers here a companion book that, like the series, focuses on how the brain shapes the reality of our lives by transforming input from the sensory organs into perceptions, decisions, connections, memories, and movements. The author effectively presents evidence proving his thesis that understanding the brain is necessary in order to comprehend what it means to be human. As neuroscientists research the mind-body connection, their work is leading to possible cures for autism, uses of real-time brain-imaging feedback to help addicts understand and control their responses, and how to slow cognitive aging. Research is also helping to explain genocide, bullying, criminal behavior, and the unconscious. Eagleman concludes by arguing that brain science and technology are on the threshold of changing human destiny. VERDICT Strongly recommended for collections where PBS viewership is high or there is demand for popular science books.—Beth Dalton, Littleton, CO
From the Publisher
Nature
"An ideal introduction to how biology generates the mind.... structured around crucial and wide-ranging questions, saturated with per- sonal and social relevance. And Eagleman’s answers are consistently clear, engaging and thought-provoking."

Brian Eno

"David Eagleman's wide-ranging roundup of the current state of knowledge about the brain is concise, accessible and often very surprising. It's a strange new world inside your head.”

Stephen Fry
"David Eagleman’s The Brain its an astonishing read. On every page there is a revelation so fantastic as to make one gasp. It would be impossible to take in if we didn’t all possess that impossibly extraordinary thing, a brain. Eagleman comes closer than anyone to solving the mystery of how to find the self inside the grey electric mush between our ears.”

Ruby Wax
"David Eagleman makes it easy to comprehend the most complex collection of cells in the Cosmos  - our brain.   If neuroscience had a rock legend this would be him.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101870532
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/06/2015
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
114,586
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 6.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

Because brain science is a fast-moving field, it’s rare to step back to view the lay of the land, to work out what our studies mean for our lives, to discuss in a plain and simple way what it means to be a biological creature. This book sets out to do that.
 
Brain science matters. The strange computational material in our skulls is the perceptual machinery by which we navigate the world, the stuff from which decisions arise, the material from which imagination is forged. Our dreams and our waking lives emerge from its billions of zapping cells. A better understanding of the brain sheds light on what we take to be real in our personal relationships and what we take to be necessary in our social policy: how we fight, why we love, what we accept as true, how we should educate, how we can craft better social policy, and how to design our bodies for the centuries to come. In the brain’s microscopically small circuitry is etched the history and future of our species.
 
Given the brain’s centrality to our lives, I used to wonder why our society so rarely talks about it, preferring instead to fill our airwaves with celebrity gossip and reality shows. But I now think this lack of attention to the brain can be taken not as a shortcoming, but as a clue: we’re so trapped inside our reality that it is inordinately difficult to realize we’re trapped inside anything. At first blush, it seems that perhaps there’s nothing to talk about. Of course colors exist in the outside world. Of course my memory is like a video camera. Of course I know the real reasons for my beliefs.
 
The pages of this book will put all our assumptions under the spotlight. In writing it, I wanted to get away from a textbook model in favor of illuminating a deeper level of enquiry: how we decide, how we perceive reality, who we are, how our lives are steered, why we need other people, and where we’re heading as a species that’s just beginning to grab its own reins. This project attempts to bridge the gap between the academic literature and the lives we lead as brain owners. The approach I take here diverges from the academic journal articles I write, and even from my other neuroscience books. This project is meant for a different kind of audience. It doesn’t presuppose any specialized knowledge, only curiosity and an appetite for self-exploration.
 
So strap in for a whistle-stop tour into the inner cosmos. In the infinitely dense tangle of billions of brain cells and their trillions of connections, I hope you’ll be able to squint and make out something that you might not have expected to see in there. You.

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Meet the Author

Dr. David Eagleman is a neuroscientist at Stanford University. His scientific research is published in journals from Science to Nature, and he is also the author of the internationally bestselling books Sum and Incognito. He is the writer and presenter of the companion BBC television series The Brain.

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The Brain: The Story of You 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Neuronerd More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. Especially in the way that it was written in such a relaxed, but fascinating style. As a lover of neuroscience, I've read many other writers' works....many of whom come across as pedantic in their prose. Whereas reading David Eagleman, I feel like I'm being taken along WITH him and experiencing HIS fascination and wonder, all while being educated by one of the best. I can see why he's often being compared to Carl Sagan, in that he never makes the reader feel like an outsider, but invites us in and says 'look at this amazing wonder of biology!' Highly recommended.