Idiot Brain: What Your Head Is Really Up To

Idiot Brain: What Your Head Is Really Up To

by Dean Burnett


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A neuroscientist's delightful tour of our mysterious, mischievous, entirely fallible gray matter.

It's happened to all of us at some point. You walk into the kitchen, or flip open your laptop, or stride confidently up to a lectern, filled with purpose—and suddenly haven't the foggiest idea what you’re doing. Welcome to your idiot brain.

Yes, it is an absolute marvel in some respects—the seat of our consciousness, the pinnacle (so far) of evolutionary progress, and the engine of all human experience—but your brain is also messy, fallible, and about 50,000 years out-of-date. We cling to superstitions, remember faces but not names, miss things sitting right in front of us, and lie awake at night while our brains replay our greatest fears on an endless loop.

Yet all of this, believe it or not, is the sign of a well-meaning brain doing its best to keep you alive and healthy. In Idiot Brain, neuroscientist Dean Burnett celebrates blind spots, blackouts, insomnia, and all the other downright laughable things our minds do to us, while also exposing the many mistakes we've made in our quest to understand how our brains actually work. Expertly researched and entertainingly written, this book is for everyone who has wondered why their brain appears to be sabotaging their life, and what on earth it is really up to.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393253788
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 07/26/2016
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Dean Burnett is a neuroscientist and research associate at the Centre for Medical Education at Cardiff University. He writes a popular science blog called Brain Yapping for the Cosmic Shambles Network and dabbles in stand-up comedy. He lives in Cardiff, Wales.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Mind controls 5

How the brain regulates the body, and usually makes a mess of things

2 The gift of memory (keep the receipt) 34

The human memory system, and its strange features

3 Fear: nothing to be scared of 75

The many ways in which the brain makes us constantly afraid

4 Think you're clever, do you? 112

The baffling science of intelligence

5 Did you see this chapter coming? 152

The haphazard properties of the brain's observational systems

6 Personality: a testing concept 188

The complex and confusing properties of personality

7 Group hug! 222

How the brain is influenced by other people

8 When the brain breaks down … 263

Mental health problems, and how they come about

Afterword 303

Acknowledgments 304

References 305

Index 321

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