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Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain | [David Eagleman]

Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain

In this sparkling and provocative new book, the renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman navigates the depths of the subconscious brain to illuminate surprising mysteries. Taking in brain damage, plane spotting, dating, drugs, beauty, infidelity, synesthesia, criminal law, artificial intelligence, and visual illusions, Incognito is a thrilling subsurface exploration of the mind and all its contradictions.
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Publisher's Summary

If the conscious mind—the part you consider to be you—is just the tip of the iceberg, what is the rest doing?

In this sparkling and provocative new book, the renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman navigates the depths of the subconscious brain to illuminate surprising mysteries: Why can your foot move halfway to the brake pedal before you become consciously aware of danger ahead? Why do you hear your name being mentioned in a conversation that you didn’t think you were listening to? What do Ulysses and the credit crunch have in common? Why did Thomas Edison electrocute an elephant in 1916? Why are people whose names begin with J more likely to marry other people whose names begin with J? Why is it so difficult to keep a secret? And how is it possible to get angry at yourself—who, exactly, is mad at whom?

Taking in brain damage, plane spotting, dating, drugs, beauty, infidelity, synesthesia, criminal law, artificial intelligence, and visual illusions, Incognito is a thrilling subsurface exploration of the mind and all its contradictions.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2011 David Eagleman (P)2011 Random House

What the Critics Say

"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 Yorker)

“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 magazine)

“A fun read by a smart person for smart people.… it will attract a new generation to ponder their inner workings.” (New Scientist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (788 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Symonds 09-05-11
    Symonds 09-05-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great for laypeople...sorta"

    Loved the book overall. I'm not a scientist or a doctor, but I've read my fair share of related books for laypeople and was easily able to follow along because of it. Aside from some questionable brain exercises, Eagleman clearly and entertainingly lays out an (obviously over-)simplified explanation of the sub-conscious mind to explore how we become who we are. A good, basic picture depicting the state of our quest to understand the origin of conscious thought and a scientific understanding of the human "soul".

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roger Smith Orlando, Florida United States 07-25-11
    Roger Smith Orlando, Florida United States 07-25-11 Member Since 2000

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Your Brain"

    Excellent exploration of how your brain works and what it means to your identity and behavior.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy College Station, TX, United States 07-14-11
    Timothy College Station, TX, United States 07-14-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Excellent!"

    This book is so interesting!! Every few minutes you'll learn something you didn't know before! Engaging, well written, and well narrated by the author.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Smith 08-20-14
    R. Smith 08-20-14 Member Since 2014

    Hacker obsessed with the mind and the future.

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    "Excellent thought provoking read about the mind."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Incognito to be better than the print version?

    It was great to listen to it being read by the author himself. This book has kept me thinking long after listening to it. For weeks I kept referencing the book when having discussions about the mind with friends.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ray ORLANDO, FL, United States 05-29-14
    Ray ORLANDO, FL, United States 05-29-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Slipped into social commentary"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No, other similar books would cover topic without a couse in humanist sociology


    Has Incognito turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    David Eagleman tries to convince his readers that we all walking the planet as zombies.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher United States 01-09-14
    Christopher United States 01-09-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Amazing book!!!!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Incognito to be better than the print version?

    Not sure but the audio version was very well done.


    What about David Eagleman’s performance did you like?

    Loved the tone, pace, flow of information and especially the rhetorical (and not rhetorical) questions asked throughout the book.


    Any additional comments?

    This book was recommended to me; and I loved this book so much that I listened to it twice. I recommended it to a co-worker and he did the same. Very engaging and interesting book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa 02-20-13
    Lisa 02-20-13 Member Since 2007
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    "Enjoyed it, but didn't respect it"

    I am torn by this book. On one hand it was a fun read. But it lacks some of the mental challenge that I enjoy in a book of popular science. I enjoy a little more depth to the explanations of research. Did he do any of the research or was he borrowing and cribbing from real researchers? I lean toward the second. If you have a lay person's interest in neurology and the workings of the mind, much of the first 4-5 chapters is nothing you haven't read before. Interesting condition upon interesting condition is quickly discussed for the "oooh" and "aaaah" factor. Chapter six has a mad, voice-crying-out-in-the-desert quality. It reads something like, "Why doesn't anyone listen to me? I have the answers that will solve the world's problems with crime and criminals!" Frankly, it can get more than a little redundant and tedious in that section. Still, I can't completely trash the book. Though it wasn't as scientific as I prefer, it was a fun quick read about the brain, its functions and malfunctions. Perhaps I've read too much popular neurology for this to be fresh for me. If you haven't read that much you might enjoy it greatly. It could spur greater interest in the field.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shiran San Francisco, CA, United States 12-29-11
    Shiran San Francisco, CA, United States 12-29-11
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    "Great Science AND Great Writing"
    What did you love best about Incognito?


    Any additional comments?

    Some science writing has great writing (e.g. Gladwell). Some science writing has great science (e.g., Khaneman). This book has both AND personable narration by the author. Highly recommended.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 07-28-11
    David 07-28-11 Member Since 2003
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    "Educational and provocative"

    Since I work in the criminal law arena, the conclusions reached were interesting and should be thought provoking to the court system. I have known for a long time that the brain is one of the last unexplored areas on our earth. I hope 50 years from now we do not look back on how we deal with people with mental health differences and cringe at the lack of knowledge we had.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    christopher Round O, SC, United States 07-28-11
    christopher Round O, SC, United States 07-28-11 Member Since 2010

    Just an all around awesome person.

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    "Easily understood"

    The author presents the information in a well thought out and easily understood way. at no point in this book was i bored or trailing off. Thanks David.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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