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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)

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What Members Say

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  •  
    Laura Manchester, NH, United States 06-26-11
    Laura Manchester, NH, United States 06-26-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Changed the way I think about how I think..."

    This was a great listen; interesting and informative with a great pace/flow. I wouldn't call this book heavy, and yet there are ideas and truths contained in this book that have permanently altered the way I think about what makes a person who they are. Also, a lot of interesting concepts are presented here on the nature of reality, perception, free will - definitely gave me a lot to think about on my long commutes.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annette United States 06-21-11
    Annette United States 06-21-11 Member Since 2004

    I'm trying to wean myself and learn to function without earbuds for more than ten minutes at a time. It hasn't been easy. I lose balance...

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Who's driving this bus?"

    The more I read from this author, the more I like him. Our experience in being here and alive isn't what we necessarily think... it's all translated through our brains to create what we see and know. So what is "reality" really? Huh. Easily digested, Incognito explores the subconscious that we don't always recognize "driving the bus." Really interesting. More please. On a side note: SUM, Eagleman's other book, is a gem of tales covering potential afterlife scenarios...clever, thought provoking and entertaining. I highly recommend it to any fiction reader let alone philosopher... Smart guy, great articles out in the world as well...and hopefully more books.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 10-30-13
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 10-30-13 Member Since 2008

    College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

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    "Interesting Take...."

    on the unconscious and the brain. But do be aware this is something of a beginner's book on the brain. After having just read Schwartz's The Brain and The Mind and several other deeper books on brain function and being a long time student of neurology, I found this book something of a step down. It is a good book and well written, but it is best taken early in one's reading in this subject. (I almost never comment on readers, but this growing habit of writers reading their own books needs to end. Eastman puts UNdo INflection on NEarly EVery WORd, and his awkward enthusiasm detracts somewhat from a book already not the deepest in content.)

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Everling Palo Alto, California 07-12-11
    David Everling Palo Alto, California 07-12-11 Member Since 2010

    Skipper

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    "Do you really know yourself?"

    Fascinating take on the unconsciousness of the mind and an enjoyable book. I like David Eagleman's narration. Later chapters delve into Philosophy of Mind and the understanding of emergent phenomena like consciousness through an appreciation of its many layers of complexity. I found myself hoping Eagleman would make strong claims on these intractable problems of mind as a dramatic ending to the profundity of the foregoing, but his moderated conclusion did fit with the theme.


    I don't know if it's Eagleman's writing style, narration, or just my own fascination with the subject, but the book elicits a sublime sort of introspection. Well worth your limited attention if you have any interest in psychology.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy flowery branch, GA, United States 08-03-11
    Kathy flowery branch, GA, United States 08-03-11 Member Since 2010
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    "The Neil deGrasse Tyson of Neuroscience!!"

    The author narrates this book- which as we all know can be problematic. Not in this case... Just like Neil deGrasse David pulled this reader in first with his enthusiasm for his chosen topic, second with his ability to make it understandable for a non expert in the field and third in his ability to make it relevant to her everyday life.

    Kudo's!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn BEAUMONT, TX, United States 07-07-11
    Lynn BEAUMONT, TX, United States 07-07-11 Member Since 2005
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    "For the Novice"

    The neuroscientist could find faults with David Eagleman’s Icognito, but I learned a lot and followed the various topics just fine. Along the way, there were insights of great benefit to me and, frankly, exciting to think about. Eagleman’s forte is taking technical literature and present it to the ordinary guy – me. Essentially, Inconito is an indepth consideration of the unconscious (I would refer saying in this case – preconscious) thinking and how it works. The sections that really helped me to better understand our behavior involved discussions of thought patterns that have become a part of our DNA. Our brains are constantly looking for form and symmetry in what we perceive and Eagleman tells us the why and how that is done. The implications for our daily lives are spread before the reader like a buffet. Anyone can benefit by a reading of this book. Eagleman reads his own book to great advantage to the Audible listener.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MaryEllen Oakland, CA, United States 06-17-11
    MaryEllen Oakland, CA, United States 06-17-11 Member Since 2009
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    "The author is NOT a good reader"

    Please listen to the audio sample before you download. The author declaims rather than reads his text and it is excruciating to my ear. Very sorry but this is one book I will have to READ rather than listen to.

    38 of 54 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Samuel United States 11-02-11
    Samuel United States 11-02-11

    struggling writer

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    "So interesting!"

    Normally, I only love classic works of fiction or some times autobiographies. However, this book completely captured my attention and imagination. This book will surely let you know the unadulterated truth: you are not you. You are your brain. And the human brain is THE MOST incredible thing on the frickin' planet; therefore, we're pretty awesome too. LISTEN TO THIS BOOK! Of course, your brain already knows if you are going to listen to this book That's probably the simplest thing this book teaches; you may be undecided, but your brain rarely, rarely is..

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa United States 10-20-11
    Lisa United States 10-20-11 Member Since 2011

    Mark Twain

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    "Interesting and Very Well Read!"
    Where does Incognito rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the best audiobooks I've heard so far!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Incognito?

    I can't believe that this author is both smart enough to understand all this stuff AND well-spoken enough to give an excellent performance in his narration.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The content is super interesting and thought-provoking.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    There were so many points he made that had never crossed my mind before, but he articulated them in a very easy-to-understand manner.


    Any additional comments?

    I recommend this book to anyone who loves the brain and/or is fascinated by human thought!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Symonds San Leandro, CA, United States 09-05-11
    Symonds San Leandro, CA, United States 09-05-11
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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
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