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Publisher's Summary

An "elegant", "engrossing" (Carol Tavris, Wall Street Journal) examination of what we think we know about the brain and why - despite technological advances - the workings of our most essential organ remain a mystery. 

"I cannot recommend this book strongly enough." (Henry Marsh, author of Do No Harm)

For thousands of years, thinkers and scientists have tried to understand what the brain does. Yet, despite the astonishing discoveries of science, we still have only the vaguest idea of how the brain works. In The Idea of the Brain, scientist and historian Matthew Cobb traces how our conception of the brain has evolved over the centuries. Although it might seem to be a story of ever-increasing knowledge of biology, Cobb shows how our ideas about the brain have been shaped by each era's most significant technologies. Today we might think the brain is like a supercomputer. In the past, it has been compared to a telegraph, a telephone exchange, or some kind of hydraulic system. What will we think the brain is like tomorrow, when new technology arises? The result is an essential listen for anyone interested in the complex processes that drive science and the forces that have shaped our marvelous brains.

©2020 Matthew Cobb (P)2020 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"The story of the most complex object in the universe has never been told with greater clarity, insight, and wit. Charting the route to future discoveries, this is a masterpiece" (Adam Rutherford, author of A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived)

"This is a book I wish I could have written, and one that I will be thinking about for a long time." (Maria Picciotto, professor of psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine)

"A fresh history and tour d'horizon of 'the most complex object in the known universe.' Although scientists still struggle to understand the brain, they know a great deal about it; Cobb, a professor of biological sciences, delivers an excellent overview." (Kirkus Reviews)

What listeners say about The Idea of the Brain

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A tour de force

Yes, the author has accomplished a tour de force about the mind. Must re-read/listen.

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