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Publishers WeeklyDespite its catchy title, this book is not a hedonistic celebration but a convincing case for the idea that, far from being "reason's antithesis," emotional experiences of pleasure and pain are crucial to learning, making up "the currency for our decisions and actions." A senior research fellow at the University of Oxford's Department of Psychiatry, Kringelbach manages an informative and entertaining primer for both novices and more knowledgeable readers, introducing classic experiments (Harlow's monkeys, the metal rod in Phineas Gage's frontal lobes) and covering work at the frontier of brain research (including a new view of the "orbitofrontal cortex" processing emotions and making rational choices, like when placing a bet). In 11 chapters, Kringelbach explores how the three "fundamental elements of pleasure"-wanting, liking and learning-underlie human decision making as well as the subjective experience of pleasure, how memory works, the addictive effects of unpleasant drugs ("wanting without liking") and mental illness. 57 half-tone illus.
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