The Accidental Mind

  • by David J. Linden
  • Narrated by Ray Porter
  • 7 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

You've probably seen it before: a human brain dramatically lit from the side, the camera circling it like a helicopter shot of Stonehenge, and a modulated baritone voice exalting the brain's elegant design in reverent tones... to which this book says: Pure nonsense.
In a work at once deeply learned and wonderfully accessible, the neuroscientist David Linden counters the widespread assumption that the brain is a paragon of design - and in its place gives us a compelling explanation of how the brain's serendipitous evolution has resulted in nothing short of our humanity.
A guide to the strange and often illogical world of neural function, The Accidental Mind shows how the brain is not an optimized, general-purpose problem-solving machine, but rather a weird agglomeration of ad-hoc solutions that have been piled on through millions of years of evolutionary history.
Moreover, Linden tells us how the constraints of evolved brain design have ultimately led to almost every transcendent human foible: our long childhoods, our extensive memory capacity, our search for love and long-term relationships, our need to create compelling narrative, and, ultimately, the universal cultural impulse to create both religious and scientific explanations. With forays into evolutionary biology, this analysis of mental function answers some of our most common questions about how we've come to be who we are. The book is published by Harvard University Press.


What the Critics Say

"This is a terrific book that accomplishes its aim of presenting a biological view of how the brain works, and does so in a charming, fetching style." (Joshua R. Sanes, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Best general-public Brain Science book to date

I have been a professional neuroscientist for the last 20 years. When asked for a book on this field aimed for the general public, however, I always found it very difficult to recommend one. Is not that there are few published books on the topic; but they tend to be too superficial, prone to groundless speculation, or both. Here you have a book that is well written, entertaining and superb at explaining the core ideas and principles of modern Neuroscience for the layman. Although brain science is not a simple subject, Dr. Linden does a superb job at making it understandable and interesting. Highly recommended.
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- Francisco "MD, PhD. Currently I'm Professor of Human Anatomy & Neuroscience at the Autonoma University School of Medicine in Madrid, Spain."

Does Not Make Its Case but Highly educational

While some of the explanations of brain physiology seemed a bit more complex than necessary to build a foundation for later chapters, the book was still quite fascinating. No one should be fooled into thinking that this is light reading/listening though. The author gives about as deep of a treatment of the neuroscience behind subjects such as why we dream, how we form memories and why we fall in love as a college educated lay person can handle. On the other hand, the author's insistence that the brain is an inefficient kludge was not supported at any reasonable scientific level. For example, the comparisons of the speed of neuro-transmission to the speed of electrons over copper wire, and the focus on agglomeration of newer and ancient brain structures that have some overlap do not make the case for inefficiency. Nevertheless, this is not the focus of the book. Well worth the credit for anyone interested in understanding the science.
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- Richard

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-15-2010
  • Publisher: University Press Audiobooks