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
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"Great book for advanced readers"
Parts of it I did indeed listen to.
Competent, clear, with some odd pronunciations that could have been looked up in dictionaries.
The stories about people in weird states of consciousness being brought back to the aware world.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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?!
"Astounding technical details, I was shocked"
an elegant phenomenological model for the experience of conciseness is plainly given which is simple yet amzing
No, it reads like a technical review of the state of the art, there is no need to read in one sitting.
I was amazed to hear how much is now known about the mechanisms which give rise to consciousness, it's a very good follow up from books like: Thinking Fast and Slow, and Waking Up- Spirituality Without Religion
"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!
It's a different ball game when you know how the knobs and switches tick and toc in your brain and make your mind. You start to see you have to be more that what you know or your thoughts even the thoughts of the thoughts. Needless to say this was a wonderful listen. Lengthy but wonderful nonetheless.
I have read many books on this and related subjects and found this to be one of the very best. I had thought there wasn't much more for me to learn as a layman regarding our current understanding of neuroscience and consciousness, but this crystalized what I had already learned along with a lot I did not know in an incredibly illuminating way. I had read Gerald Edelman's work and while I could tell much of what he was saying was very insightful, I found his scholarly books (Neural Darwinism, The Remembered Present) were ultimately too difficult for me and I know his theories and writing are often criticized. Dehaene's references to Edelman were much appreciated and helped me place his ideas in context of the current science. Very clear and well-laid out. At the start I thought the reader might be a little deliberate but once I got into the rhythm I thought it was perfect. All stars.
You could hardly find a more interesting subject than consciousness itself. This book articulates how consciousness is comprised, written by leading scientist in the field. It is both academically rigorous and popular. A great read.
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