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Publisher's Summary

“There are words that are so familiar they obscure rather than illuminate the thing they mean, and ‘learning’ is such a word. It seems so ordinary, everyone does it. Actually it’s more of a black box, which Dehaene cracks open to reveal the awesome secrets within.” (The New York Times Book Review)

An illuminating dive into the latest science on our brain's remarkable learning abilities and the potential of the machines we program to imitate them.

The human brain is an extraordinary learning machine. Its ability to reprogram itself is unparalleled, and it remains the best source of inspiration for recent developments in artificial intelligence. But how do we learn? What innate biological foundations underlie our ability to acquire new information, and what principles modulate their efficiency?

In How We Learn, Stanislas Dehaene finds the boundary of computer science, neurobiology, and cognitive psychology to explain how learning really works and how to make the best use of the brain’s learning algorithms in our schools and universities, as well as in everyday life and at any age. 

©2020 Stanislas Dehaene (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"[An] expert overview of learning.... Never mind our opposable thumb, upright posture, fire, tools, or language; it is education that enabled humans to conquer the world.... Dehaene's fourth insightful exploration of neuroscience will pay dividends for attentive readers." (Kirkus Reviews)

“[Dehaene] rigorously examines our remarkable capacity for learning. The baby brain is especially awesome and not a 'blank slate'.... Dehaene’s portrait of the human brain is fascinating.” (Booklist)

"A richly instructive [book] for educators, parents, and others interested in how to most effectively foster the pursuit of knowledge." (Publishers Weekly

What listeners say about How We Learn

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not easy to listen to, but worth forcing yourself

As the author says, meta-cognition is important.

It might not be fun to listen to at times, but stick through it. After all, we're supposed to do more and more difficult activities with our brains. The information that you'll extract by the end will have made it worthwhile.

6 people found this helpful

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Too pedantic, too didactic

If you want to know how babies learn, read this book. If you want to know how babies brains compare to current AI algorithms read this book. If you want to be bored read this book. However, if you want to come away from reading a book with an understanding of human learning and some practical applications in your own life read another book.

4 people found this helpful

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Very Interesting!

As educators, some of what he talks about we know intuitively... but here is the science to support it. This gave me a different and beneficial perspective that I can take with me into the classroom. I listened to it, but I think having the text might be more beneficial to reference back to.

4 people found this helpful

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so cool

thought I knew a lot.....I was wrong. uniquely informative. apparently babies are pretty awesome

3 people found this helpful

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A fascinating and illuminating must for parents, teachers, policy makers and scientists.

Neuroscience, artificial intelligence, educational pedagogy, language, literacy, math and sleep strung together in articulate relatable prose to guide the next generation of parents and educators; this was a fascinating and illuminating read. Dehaene’s 4 pillars will hopefully be discussed and applied firmly on a foundation of science.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent

Being a computer programmer, I liked the way the author explained the different systems of the brain. I liked the constant references to machine learning and the different challenges that field will have to match the human brain.

The book also gave me some ideas to improve my own learning. Like reading before sleep. As well as getting a good amount of quality sleep. Which I kind of knew but it was good to be reminded of again.

1 person found this helpful

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A favorite science author

Consistently great books, and this one is no exception. Make neuroscience very easily understood. Great read.

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interesting and informative

good primer on human and machine learning, together with a little glimpse of cutting edge AI mixed in here and there

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Not as efficient as I thought

It’s ironic that a book on learning is kind of hard to learn… Can be boring at times, sentences not as straightforward as expected, An OK writing, too much emphasize on machine learning and algorithms & less on actual tools on how to improve thar learning, while yes I did learn a lot from this book, but I probably would have learned just as much if not more if I saw a 1-2 hour lecture with visual information on what I just read, also most useful information is at the end of the book, it’s hard to describe why it deserves 3 stars but it does… I would recommend David Eagleman books over this one, You’ll learn far more on learning

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Too dry

Not sure if it has to do with the style of narration, but I found this book to be dry and hard to listen to. The first few chapters lay the ground work for how the human brain works but it's constant comparison to computers and assumptions about babies internal knowledge of physics leads me to believe most of this research was done by humans that posses a very narrow understanding of human interconnectivity outside of a lab or a research setting.

Let's get it straight, we are not LIKE computers, computers are LIKE the people who program them. Try doing a Google image search for "children eating ice cream" and pay attention to which cultures are dominantly represented and which are not. Yes, this book is a compilation of many well established theories across many sciences: neurology, linguistics, early childhood development, computer programming - but it lacks a well rounded presentation the impact socialization has on learning.