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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
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Customer Reviews

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By Tristan on 01-18-16

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.

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73 of 75 people found this review helpful


By D. Fyler on 11-21-17

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.

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11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Anonymous User on 01-26-18

Utterly mindshifting.

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

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