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

4.6 out of 5 stars 98 customer reviews

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Paperback, 26 Apr 2012
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (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: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 149,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"[An] entertaining and truly brainy front-line report from the neuroscience labs... I guarantee it'll change the way you think of yourself" (Mail on Sunday)

"A fun read by a smart person for smart people... It will attract a new generation to ponder their inner workings" (New Scientist)

"Eagleman engagingly sums up recent discoveries about the unconscious processes that dominate our mental life. . . . [He] is the kind of guy who really does make being a neuroscientist look like fun" (New York Times)

"David Eagleman's lobe-spangling new study of how thoroughly our genetic make-up, deep-lying subroutines and chemical changes can affect the submerged mind gives dizzying up-to-the-minute insight as to just whose hand is really on the tiller. . . Incognito is a fascinating book that will not so much turn your mind upside down as flip it right-side up. You'll never hear the phase "You don't know what you're doing!" in the same way again" (Time Out)

"Breezy, fun, optimistic and full of the latest research" (The Sunday Times)

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

"Witty, bright, sharp and unexpected... as surprising a book as I've read for years. Every story is a new Heaven" (Brian Eno)


Readers may discover much to appreciate - not least the lives they are living now... quirky, occasionally unsettling... never short of new new ideas, all of them rolled out with style

" (Nicholas Tucker Independent)

"Eagleman provides an excellent overview of the workings of our most vital organ" (Ian Critchley Sunday Times)

"***** 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)

"A shining example of lucid and easy-to-grasp science writing" (Laurence Phelan Independent on Sunday)

"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)

"Contains startling revelations. . . beginning with the awesome and shadowy power of the subconscious" (The Times)

"You will learn a great deal that is fascinating from Incognito" (Guardian)

"A popularizer of impressive gusto . . . [Eagleman] aims, grandly, to do for the study of the mind what Copernicus did for the study of the stars. . . Incognito proposes a grand new account of the relationship between consciousness and the brain. It is full of dazzling ideas, as it is chockablock with facts and instances" (New York Observer)

"A bold argument, and perhaps just the beginning of the debate" (Sunday Herald)

"Eagleman's style is accessible and easily understood" (Press Association)

"A fascinating and engaging look at the nature of consciousness... Eagleman brings a concise prose style, historical research and the latest scientific thinking to a book that will have you re-examining the nature of personality and identity" (Big Issue)

"Lyrical, unpretentious, always compelling" (Sunday Telegraph)

"Eagleman explains scientific ideas with exemplary clarity" (Spectator)

"The Malcolm Gladwell of brain science" (Independent)

"He has a gift for communicating complicated ideas in an accessible and friendly way - Brian Cox with an American accent" (Seven, Sunday Telegraph)

"Original and provocative... A smart, captivating book that will give you a prefrontal workout" (Nature)

"Eagleman has a talent for testing the untestable, for taking seemingly sophomoric notions and using them to nail down the slippery stuff of consciousness" (The New York Times)

"Appealing and persuasive" (Wall Street Journal)

"Your mind is an elaborate trick, and mastermind David Eagleman explains how the trick works with great lucidity and amazement. Your mind will thank you" (Wired)

Book Description

A sparkling and provocative book on neuroscience

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The first half of this book is amazing - full of fascinating insights. There's so much good stuff, he nearly throws away one of the best and simplest theories into why we dream. It's probably worth buying for the first half alone. However in the second half he moves into the philosophy of crime and punishment. While the first half of the book is peppered with all his references, carefully collated, in the second half it really is just an essay of his ideas. So if you are interested in neuroscience and philosophy you may find this enjoyable; I certainly didn't.
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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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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.

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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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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