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Incognito: The Secret Lives of The Brain Paperback – 26 Apr 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd (26 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847679404
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847679406
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 43,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Eagleman, PHD, is a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston Texas where his research laboratory is developing a reputation for doing some of the most unusual experiments in contemporary neuroscience. He has had essays published in all manner of journals including Nature and Science. He also lectures widely and continues to be invited to speak at universities all around the world.

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Review

'Stunningly original... You can get through it in an hour, but you'd be mad to hurry, and you will certainly want to return to it many times...Sum has the unaccountable, jaw-dropping quality of genius. It seems exquisitely adapted to fill the contemporary longing for a kind of secular holy book' -- Observer

'A stunning exploration of the 'we' behind the 'I'. Eagleman reveals, with his typical grace and eloquence, all the neural magic tricks behind the cognitive illusion we call reality' -- Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide

'A dream to read... I couldn't resist telling people about a couple of things I read here' -- Brian Clegg, Popular Science

'A well-written popular science book, with a clear narrative, friendly explanations that respect both the lay-reader's intelligence and their ignorance, and a plethora of weird facts that make you nudge the person next to you and say 'Listen to this!'' -- Brandon Robshaw, Independent on Sunday

'I was completely immersed. Eagleman writes well and has brought together great stories from the wild shores of neuroresearch, taking a field that is enormously complex and creating a clear path through it. ... A book that will stay with you' -- Michael Mosley, BBC Focus

'Eagleman provides an excellent overview of the workings of our most vital organ' -- Ian Critchley, Sunday Times

'A shining example of lucid and easy-to-grasp science writing' --Laurence Phelan, Independent on Sunday

About the Author

David Eagleman, Ph.D. is a neuroscientist at the Baylor College of Medicine, where he directs the Laboratory for Perception and Action as well as the Initiative on Neuroscience and Law. His scientific research is published in journals from Science to Nature, and his neuroscience books include Re-wire: The Shape-Shifting Brain and Wednesday is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia. He is also the author of the international fiction bestseller, Sum.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Malcolm L on 19 May 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is the kind of book that I really enjoy because so often I wanted to stop and think about the information it gives you. There is something ironic about that, as you will discover if you read 'Incognito,' as you learn how little you do is actually governed by conscious thought!

The book is an easy read for a serious, factual book but impeccably based in a very wide range of research, as the 26-page bibliography demonstrates. In the latter chapters Eagleman focuses heavily on the legal implications of the research which calls into question how meaningful it is to conduct trials and impose punishments operating on the concept of "blameworthiness." This effectively challenges most of us, I suspect, but does mean the discussion moves away from the broader attempt to understand the concepts of self and consciousness we commonly hold.

For anyone not already an expert in neurology, I recommend 'Incognito' without reservation as likely to be an enlightening, challenging and intensely thought-provoking read.
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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful By East Ender on 7 April 2011
Format: Hardcover
I'm wondering whether the last reviewer actually read the same book as me. Eagleman draws on years of experience as a neuroscientist, citing hundreds of experiments, cases and examples. Through these he makes his fascinating topic - the unconscious brain - easily accessible to a lay reader without ever patronising, explaining everything from why you can argue with yourself to the best way to win a game of tennis. Popular science it may be (albeit with credentials aplenty), but pop psychology it definitely is not.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By JuliaC VINE VOICE on 23 April 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This must be the first time I have actually picked up a science book out of choice, and the first time I have read anything scientific since school, but after hearing neuroscientist David Eagleman interviewed on the radio about his new book I was hooked. And it has not disappointed at all - in fact it is something that I would never have believed could exist, a real science page turner.

Eagleman possesses that rare skill of explaining complex scientific concepts to non scientists, in a way that makes them fascinating, and weaves in references to literature, philosophy and history, to create a fabulously rich book. And his subject is one which should really interest everyone, as it is all about us, and more specifically, the way our brains work.
The work looks at what makes our brain work the way it does, and includes a clever and enjoyable series of interactive tests for the reader to illustrate its point that what we see is not always the same, and our reality is very much manipulated and filtered by our brains themselves. It links these processes to some practical and everyday life choices that we make - we are, apparently and amazingly, more likely to like and have relationships with people who share our own details such as the first initial of our name, or our birthday.

There are thought provoking insights into the world of people who cannot see at all, as Eagleman argues that congenitally blind people are not missing anything that sighted people have, they just have a very different reality where other senses are much more heightened and sharp. So it seems that even our everyday realities are completely subjective.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Simon Laub on 25 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover
David Eaglemans book ''Incognito'' is more than just a good place to start
(as we venture further into the frontiers of brain-land).
It is a stunning exploration of the mind, and all the wondrous stuff that goes on inside our heads.

Eaglemans tour de force starts with Vision (About one third of he human brain is devoted to vision).
Where human vision is nothing like a camera just taking a picture.
Take the blind spot (a sizable patch in the retina with no photoreceptors).
The brain invents a patch of the background pattern for us to ''see''.
With no information from the spot - the spot is filled with the patterns around it!
Talk about reality being not very real....

As the book goes on, it justs get weirder and weirder.
Our thoughts are also ''constructions''... What we find delicious, tasty etc. is hardwired by evolution.
I.e. most humans are hardwired to be attracted to other humans, not frogs?
Actually, our entire mental landscape - ethics, emotions, beauty, social interaction etc.
- is hardwired through evolution! We can only see our own umwelt, true reality out there - the umgebung - is beyond us.

Many interesting brain effects are described in the book. The McGurk Effect is a beautiful (and stunning) demonstration that what we see
and hear is actually a brain construction. A nice piece of brain editing,
where sound and vision are coordinated in an early processing stage outside conscious control.
Vision dominates hearing, so hearing is adjusted to the visual cue,
even though it is completely wrong.
Stunning.

Eagleman also has some really good points that the brain is not a magic system
(just in case you believed that ....), but an actual physical system.
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