Regular price: $27.99

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

How does the brain generate a conscious thought? And why does so much of our knowledge remain unconscious? Thanks to clever psychological and brain-imaging experiments, scientists are closer to cracking this mystery than ever before. In this lively book, Stanislas Dehaene describes the pioneering work his lab and the labs of other cognitive neuroscientists worldwide have accomplished in defining, testing, and explaining the brain events behind a conscious state. We can now pin down the neurons that fire when a person reports becoming aware of a piece of information and understand the crucial role unconscious computations play in how we make decisions. The emerging theory enables a test of consciousness in animals, babies, and those with severe brain injuries.A joyous exploration of the mind and its thrilling complexities, Consciousness and the Brain will excite anyone who is interested in cutting-edge science and technology and the vast philosophical, personal, and ethical implications of finally quantifying consciousness.

©2014 Stanislas Dehaene (P)2014 Tantor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    268
  • 4 Stars
    118
  • 3 Stars
    60
  • 2 Stars
    16
  • 1 Stars
    13

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    242
  • 4 Stars
    100
  • 3 Stars
    55
  • 2 Stars
    14
  • 1 Stars
    6

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    225
  • 4 Stars
    115
  • 3 Stars
    48
  • 2 Stars
    15
  • 1 Stars
    12
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I had no idea we knew this much.

I mean really: they can now tell whether a "vegetative" person is partially-conscious or not by looking at brain scans. They can actually see four distinct signatures of consciousness. That's amazing.

Scientists now understand how subliminal stimuli can "prime" the mind to think about certain things without registering in the conscious mind, right down to the nuts and bolts of it. I honestly didn't think science knew that yet.

A credible explanation for what's actually going wrong in schizophrenic minds is presented. Not a hand-wavy "chemical imbalance," a physical mechanism, with evidence. Definitely wasn't expecting that.

The idea that consciousness is a "global workspace" sheds light on the advantages of consciousness and why we evolved it in the first place, as well as its limitations. You will leave the book reflecting on the different aspects of your mind that are contributing to your conscious experience right now. Funny enough, most of your pre-frontal cortex is being told to shut up until its needed.

If you're looking for a non-mystical, science-based update on what we know about consciousness right now, get this book. It was more than I hoped for.

75 of 78 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Overview of recent developments in brain science

This book is a wonderful overview of recent developments in brain science namely the development and consciousness and how consciousness functions. He also spends some time talking about a disease of consciousness ie schizophrenia.

The author does a great job of reviewing different experiments that led to an understanding of consciousness through its neuroanatomy and neuronal function of its various modules and feed back loops.

My only complaint is that I think to fully appreciate this book the reader would need some basic background in neurology and neuroanatomy.

For example, he Spends a lot of time talking about feedback loops, neurons in various structures within the brain that create consciousness. iAlthough he spends a brief amount of time talking about the locations and functions of various structures such as the parietal lobe, occipital lobe, basil ganglia, thalamus and anterior cingulate gyrus, His explanations are very brief. If you didn’t already have some knowledge of these structures I don’t believe his explanation would be sufficient to allow you to understand much of what he was talking about in terms of experiments and function. Otherwise this is a great book and I really enjoyed listening to it and I learned quite a bit.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Wayne
  • Matthews, NC
  • 12-21-17

You may find the repetition...

...of the first few chapters off putting, but do not give up on this marvelous book. Approaching it with an open mind rewards the listener. French scientist (behavioral psychologist) and professor Stanislas Dehaene has written an important book on the subject of human consciousness admitting from the start that our understanding of the brain and consciousness is still rudimentary.

My criticism of Consciousness and the Brain is that the many experiments described in detail in the first half of the book deal almost entirely with the processing of visual stimuli by the brain. I would like to see more about how the brain responds to audio stimuli and tactile stimulii. Despite my critical comment, I do understand that visual stimuli are likely to represent more complexity for the brain to process than audio or tactile stimuli.

Dehaene's theories concerning the nature of consciousness may be wrong, but he has serious theories based on reasonably structured experiments which is more than most other researchers can claim. The book has eight chapters which average close to 90 minutes in duration each. The greatest strength of the book is in Chapters 7 and 8. The first 6 chapters present data and the final 2 chapters, especially Chapter 8, deal with summations and always tentative conclusions. I believe Consciousness and the Brain is an important book.

Some reviewers have stated or strongly implied the book used too much hard to understand jargon. I'm a scientist in the fields of the hard sciences, especially chemistry and math/statistics. I have little experience in biological or psychological sciences beyond three required undergrad courses over 55 years ago. I detected no scientific jargon issue.

Some reviewers found the narration unsatisfactory or audio the wrong medium for understanding the book's contents. I disagree. Narration is superb in my opinion and the book works well in audio format.

What I like best about the book is the authors lack of obvious ego; he writes like a scientist in the early stages of an investigation. He draws on the earlier work of others, he realizes that his research is rudimentary, and he expects others in the future will know and understand much more than he does and in so doing will likely build on some of his theories as they disprove others.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book for advanced readers

Would you listen to Consciousness and the Brain again? Why?

Parts of it I did indeed listen to.

What about David Drummond’s performance did you like?

Competent, clear, with some odd pronunciations that could have been looked up in dictionaries.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The stories about people in weird states of consciousness being brought back to the aware world.

Any additional comments?

The author has definitely identified where in the brain the experience of consciousness takes place, and explains well why most of what our brain does is unconscious. His global workspace theory is well explained, too. His only big mistake is that he dislikes qualia. (These are the raw "feelings" of an experience, like trying to explain what "green" is, or a bat trying to explain his perceptions when his sonar lets him zero in on insects and avoid hazards.) But qualia are real, and his denigration of them near the end of the book is disappointing.

54 of 58 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Good Stuff...

First, I guess I, unlike the other reviewer, did not find the narrator "cocky," nor could I imagine how that could influence the listening to a book on neurology... That aside, the book itself contains a lot of important, if basic, ideas about neurology and the current knowledge concerning human consciousness. It tends, perhaps, to be a bit on the computational side of things, but the theories presented here are pretty sound. (There is debate as to what extend the mind really works like a computer, and I am one who is more in the Jonathan Haidt camp, believing that the mind is more complex, and much more emotionally driven, than the computational model allows for--listen to a couple of books by Haidt after finishing with this one.) I would recommend this as a beginning or even as an intermediate book on consciousness and neurology. Michael Gazziniga or Rhawn Joseph (the latter not yet in audiobook) might be better advanced studies in this subject.

45 of 49 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The BEST on Consciousness that you will find

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

100% positive recommendation.

This is a thorough, top-to-bottom discussion of consciousness, the sub-conscious, the self-conscious and the underlying causal mechanisms of our brain. Yes, some of the examples (of the component mechanisms of sight, or brain injury impact to conscious awareness) are now familiar in the literature, but Dehaene weaves them into his narrative in ways that support the development of his argument for the neural workspace and long-distance inter-regional feedback. Fascinating material! Tempered with due consideration as to the limits of current neurological, physiological and medical knowledge.

His final chapter, where he reflects on some of the wider implications of the preceding chapters, puts to shame most contemporary philosophical discussions of mind, brain and consciousness. It is surely one of the best discussions on these topics that you will find.

What other book might you compare Consciousness and the Brain to and why?

Eagleman's work comes close.

What does David Drummond bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Excellent presentation

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

Yes. Amazement, both at the depth of Dehaene's knowledge and the intricacy of how our brains work.

Any additional comments?

I canot find other Dehaene audiobooks... but have now ordered hard copies of his other works. In fact, I have also ordered a hard copy of this audiobook.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Phenomenal

I simply cannot believe that we're all living without knowing the information presented in this book. It's a life changing experience that will make you see things very differently.

I struggled to finish this book because the author is simply bursting knowledge in each phrase. The information is so dense that you will forget what you've just learned 5 minutes ago.

The narrator is robotic and has a disturbing fake tone that sounds like a news guy from the 1930s.

I will read this book again and again.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

excellent complement to "On Intelligence"

I had already listened to On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins, so I was worried that Consciousness and the Brain would be redundant. It was not. While the former carefully works from the physical structures of the brain up, the latter works its way from the experience of consiousness down. Consciousness and the Brain remains dense and engaging throughout. Far from being dry or encyclopedic, it kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end, wondering what new discovery or experiment lay around the next bend!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

CONSCIOUSNESS

Stanislas Dehaene argues that consciousness is a measurable state of mind. He speculates that a measurable artifact will be found to quantify consciousness. Dehaene suggests mapping of brain consciousness may produce standardized principles of artificial intelligence. He believes consciousness is within the grasp of science and technology. Dehaene explains that brain mapping is far from complete but its potential for defining consciousness is experimentally testable.

Dehaene believes quantum computing opens a door to artificial intelligence that can replicate consciousness. He implies the myriad signals that come from different parts of the brain will eventually be mapped. Dehaene infers brain mapping offers a framework for consciousness that can be created in a computer program.

In a world based on probabilities rather than Newtonian cause and effect, artificial intelligence offers a “Brave New World”. Is that a good or bad thing? Will A.I. be a Huxley redux or revision?


3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A "Maze"

I could hardly put the book down until done with the last chapter. Now I realize there is a lot more I don't know. I was curious when I started reading this book, now I am all curiosity..
Is curiosity part of the brain doing?!
Excellent book!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Emils Petracenoks
  • 01-26-18

Utterly mindshifting.

This is an amazing book that gives a full popular, yet accurate, of modern proceedings in cognitive science.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful