The Genius Engine: Where Memory, Reason, Passion, Violence, and Creativity Intersect in the Human Brain

The Genius Engine: Where Memory, Reason, Passion, Violence, and Creativity Intersect in the Human Brain

by Kathleen Stein
     
 

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Although other primates and many other animals have working memory, the human brain gives our species a unique ability to reason, remember, and build models of the future. Our brain specifically, the prefrontal cortex defines our prevailing spirit, distinctive character, talent, aptitude, and inclination. Our genius.

In The Genius Engine, Kathleen Stein

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Overview

Although other primates and many other animals have working memory, the human brain gives our species a unique ability to reason, remember, and build models of the future. Our brain specifically, the prefrontal cortex defines our prevailing spirit, distinctive character, talent, aptitude, and inclination. Our genius.

In The Genius Engine, Kathleen Stein investigates the wonders of our prefrontal cortex, or PFC. Drawing on her decades of experience as a science and technology editor and writer, she deftly explains how the PFC gives us the special flexibility to update information from moment to moment and to make long-range plans; how it controls our artistic and athletic intelligence; and how it determines our moral compass. She delves into the mundane and often taken-for-granted capacities of the PFC?such as multitasking, humor, and empathy, and probes the social problems caused by a dysfunctional PFC.

Examining how the PFC orchestrates our entire mental universe, The Genius Engine shows why some individuals are hardwired to be dark and brooding and why little laughs are evolution's way of encouraging us to do some light cognitive calisthenics. It also explores how we can expand the PFC's capacities, demonstrating how the preschool television show Blue's Clues helps children develop their memory and how bilingualism enhances a child's working memory and control processes.

Stein reveals the extensive reconfiguration of the PFC during puberty, and why this turmoil within the PFC informs how teens judge others. This adolescent brain remodeling explains why teenagers tend to find life so unfair: they're unable to read social situations efficiently during a period when peer acceptance is the epicenter of their lives. Stein also provides examples of the long-term consequences of PFC injuries. Babies with certain PFC injuries tend to grow up friendless and emotionless. In adults, injury can cause a variety of deficits, including difficulties distinguishing whether a voice is cheerful or morose. Once the damage is done to the prefrontal tissue, no other part of the brain can assume its functions.

Taking us to the forefront of neuroscience, The Genius Engine provides a mesmerizing look into the area of our brain that defines what it means to be human the part that gives us not only our agile intelligence but also our emotions, morality, and rules of social conduct.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As neuroscientists refine their understanding of how the human brain works, the prefrontal cortex (PFC) has been shown to play a powerful role. As the brain's "central executive," the PFC is responsible for handling all kinds of thought processes, from sorting through short-term memories to understanding jokes. Stein, the former neuroscience editor for Omni, uses interviews with a wide array of brain researchers as the foundation for her overview, explaining the significance of their research. While the ramifications of each line of study-establishing the PFC's role in everything from emotional intelligence to the suppression of violence-are significant, Stein has difficulty bringing them all together into a dynamic, involving story. And while she does provide a few pictures of the prefrontal and cerebral cortices at the beginning of the book, the lack of illustrations in the text makes it harder to understand the relationships among the areas of the brain she discusses. The science is solid, but the account lacks the welcoming quality of recent works by other brain specialists such as Steven Johnson and John Horgan. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
* As neuroscientists refine their understanding of how the human brain works, the prefrontal cortex (PFC) has been shown to play a powerful role. As the brain's "central executive," the PFC is responsible for handling all kinds of thought processes, from sorting through short-term memories to understanding jokes.Stein, the former neuroscience editor for Omni, uses interviews with a wide array of brain researchers as the foundation for her overview, explaining the significance of their research. While the ramifications of each line of study—establishing the PFC's role in everything from emotional intelligence to the suppression of violence—are significant, Stein has difficulty bringing them all together into a dynamic, involving story. And while she does provide a few pictures of the prefrontal and cerebral cortices at the beginning of the book, the lack of illustrations in the text makes it harder to understand the relationships among the areas of the brain she discusses. The science is solid, but the account lacks the welcoming quality of recent works by other brain specialists such as Steven Johnson and John Horgan. (Feb.) (Publishers Weekly, November 27, 2006)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780470086889
Publisher:
Turner Publishing Company
Publication date:
05/04/2007
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
File size:
1 MB

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