Well-Grounded: The Neurobiology of Rational Decisions

Well-Grounded: The Neurobiology of Rational Decisions

by Kelly Lambert


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A neuroscientist reveals unique aspects of decision-making and the best strategies for protecting and enhancing the brain’s ability to navigate life’s uncertainties
Contingency calculations—the ability to predict the outcomes of decisions and actions—are critical for survival and success. Our amazing brains continually process past and current experiences to enable us to make the most adaptive choices. But when the brain’s information systems are compromised—by such varying conditions as drug addiction, poverty, mental illness, or even privilege—we can lose the ability to arrive at informed decisions.
In this engaging book, behavioral neuroscientist Kelly Lambert explores a variety of the modern factors that can lead to warped neural processing, or distorted realities she terms “brain bubbles.” Individuals who define success in terms of creature comforts and immediate gratification, for instance, may interact less with the physical and social world and thereby dull their ability to imagine varied contingency scenarios. The author underscores how continuous, meaningful, and well-grounded experiences are required if we are to make the best decisions throughout our lives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300207309
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 09/25/2018
Pages: 312
Sales rank: 1,146,888
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Kelly Lambert is an award-winning professor of behavioral neuroscience at the University of Richmond and author of four previous books, including Lifting Depression and The Lab Rat Chronicles

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1 The Brain's Contingency Calculator: The Secret of Our Success 6

2 The Brain's Output: Behavior's Many Forms 26

3 The Human Brain: An Embarrassment of Riches 48

4 Building the Brain's Contingency Circuit 73

5 When Life Distorts the Contingency Filters 95

6 Fine-Tuning the Contingency Calculators: Well-Grounded Lessons from Rats, Comedians, and Triple-Crown Horse Owners 122

7 Parenting: Time to Recalculate Life's Contingencies 150

8 Calculating Effective Strategies for Treating Mental Illness 182

9 Getting Down to Business: Putting the Contingency Calculators to Work 211

10 Stretching the Contingency Limits: New and Imagined Realities 232

Epilogue Redefining Prosperity-From Strategic Champagne Bubbles to Accurately Perceived Life Affordances 255

Notes 261

Index 285

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