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From the author of How Emotions Are Made, a myth-busting primer on the brain in the tradition of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.   Have you ever wondered why you have a brain? Let renowned neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett demystify that big gray blob between your ears. In seven short essays (plus a bite-sized story about how brains From the author of How Emotions Are Made, a myth-busting primer on the brain in the tradition of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.   Have you ever wondered why you have a brain? Let renowned neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett demystify that big gray blob between your ears. In seven short essays (plus a bite-sized story about how brains evolved), this slim, entertaining, and accessible collection reveals mind-expanding lessons from the front lines of neuroscience research. You’ll learn where brains came from, how they’re structured (and why it matters), and how yours works in tandem with other brains to create everything you experience. Along the way, you’ll also learn to dismiss popular myths such as the idea of a “lizard brain” and the alleged battle between thoughts and emotions, or even between nature and nurture, to determine your behavior.   Sure to intrigue casual readers and scientific veterans alike, Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain is full of surprises, humor, and important implications for human nature—a gift of a book that you will want to savor again and again.  


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From the author of How Emotions Are Made, a myth-busting primer on the brain in the tradition of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.   Have you ever wondered why you have a brain? Let renowned neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett demystify that big gray blob between your ears. In seven short essays (plus a bite-sized story about how brains From the author of How Emotions Are Made, a myth-busting primer on the brain in the tradition of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.   Have you ever wondered why you have a brain? Let renowned neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett demystify that big gray blob between your ears. In seven short essays (plus a bite-sized story about how brains evolved), this slim, entertaining, and accessible collection reveals mind-expanding lessons from the front lines of neuroscience research. You’ll learn where brains came from, how they’re structured (and why it matters), and how yours works in tandem with other brains to create everything you experience. Along the way, you’ll also learn to dismiss popular myths such as the idea of a “lizard brain” and the alleged battle between thoughts and emotions, or even between nature and nurture, to determine your behavior.   Sure to intrigue casual readers and scientific veterans alike, Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain is full of surprises, humor, and important implications for human nature—a gift of a book that you will want to savor again and again.  

30 review for Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain

  1. 4 out of 5

    NAT.orious reads ☾

    3 STARS ★★★✩✩ This book is for you if… you’re not the kind of science reader that wants his texts to be overly sensational. You will still notice that the author tries to excite her readers with some magnificent facts. ⤐ Overall. Disclaimer: I really want to be blown away by science books. I don't expect to be enlightened to the point of ascension, I just thoroughly enjoy having fun facts to randomly mention when I'm socialising. This book was not quite what I was looking for but still good 3 STARS ★★★✩✩ This book is for you if… you’re not the kind of science reader that wants his texts to be overly sensational. You will still notice that the author tries to excite her readers with some magnificent facts. ⤐ Overall. Disclaimer: I really want to be blown away by science books. I don't expect to be enlightened to the point of ascension, I just thoroughly enjoy having fun facts to randomly mention when I'm socialising. This book was not quite what I was looking for but still good enough for a couple of hours of scientific input. Lisa mainly drew my attention to me how absolutely "pathetic" human infants are. While other species can walk within minutes of their birth and have fully developed brains, we cannot even control our own limbs. Even fully grown we are less capable of certain tasks than even simple bacteria. I also learned that all creatures share the same basic construction plan for our brain but each with different components and individual proportions. ⤐ The structure is as follows. THE HALF LESSON - Your Brain Is Not for Thinking LESSON NO 1 - You Have One Brain (Not Three) LESSON NO 2 - Your Brain Is a Network LESSON NO 3 - Little Brains Wire Themselves to Their World LESSON NO 4 - Your Brain Predicts (Almost) Everything You Do LESSON NO 5 - Your Brain Secretly Works With Other Brains LESSON NO 6 - Brains Make More than One Kind of Mind LESSON NO 7 - Our Brains Can Create Reality Epilogue Acknowledgements Appendix: The Science Behind the Science Index Author's Note _____________________ 3 STARS. Decent read that I have neither strongly positive nor negative feelings about. Some thinks irked me and thus it does not qualify as exceptional. _____________________ Many thanks to the author Lisa Feldman Barrett, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for providing me with this eArc in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rita

    This little gem rekindled my interest in non-fiction and was a pleasant science "snack" to finish the year (also one of the few times I read a book that was just published, as it was randomly picked up by my boyfriend in a bookstore). Barrett explains some basic concepts about our brain and how it is responsible for human behavior in a very humorous tone, through a prose that is not only pleasant but also very easy to read. That being said, this book feels sometimes too easy, because it is clearl This little gem rekindled my interest in non-fiction and was a pleasant science "snack" to finish the year (also one of the few times I read a book that was just published, as it was randomly picked up by my boyfriend in a bookstore). Barrett explains some basic concepts about our brain and how it is responsible for human behavior in a very humorous tone, through a prose that is not only pleasant but also very easy to read. That being said, this book feels sometimes too easy, because it is clearly aimed at layman confronted with the subject for the first time, which resulted, in my opinion, in too many repetitions of the same idea through different analogies, and in an overall "baby tone" that irritated me occasionally. That plus the system chosen for the end notes (it can't be that hard or distracting for people to have footnote numbers in the text itself, can it) justifies my rating. But it does not stop me from recommending this book, especially since the author, a scientist, is not afraid of dabbling in political subjects directly related to the subject at hand, which I thought was commendable. The 7 lessons go as follows, for anyone interested: 0) Half lesson, as the author called it: Your brain is not for thinking: Your brain main function is survival. 1) You have one brain (not three): The triune brain paradigm is, at this point, just a scientific myth (yes, those exist too) 2) Your brain is a network: No specific part of the brain houses specific functions, but the whole brain performs these functioning as a super evolved and flexible network 3) Little brains wire themselves to the world: Not surprisingly, babies' brain form themselves largely with the help of outside stimuli 4) Your brain predicts (almost) everything you do: Your brain functions not reactively, but predictively, contrary to what we might think (I love this idea, unknown to me before: it's like all of us carry a seer in the top of our head, predicting the future and reacting to it, similarly to the Oracle from the Matrix) 5) Your brain secretly works with other brains: We're cooperative animals in more than one way, and sometimes we are not even aware of how we influence one another 6) Brains make more than one kind of mind: There's no universal "human mind" type, as every brain is unique and complex enough to create completely different minds and personalities for every person 7) Our brains can create reality: Our brains are also so complex, namely because of their capacity to think in abstract terms, that we created social constructs which govern our every-day life, and that we treat as if they were as real as physical reality (money, corporations, etc.)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Katie Bruell

    Wow. I loved this book so much. It was brilliant, mind opening, hilarious, and it gently pushes the reader in so many right directions. Can’t wait to read her other book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    The Conch

    After David Eagleman's 'The Brain', it is another crispy and tasty book about brain. Author starts from evolution of brain from a simple cellular organism Amphioxi upto complex "three pound blob between ears" of human which has 128 billion neurons. The book compels readers to think about the process of seeing the world. The organ which is sitting in dark black box, named skull, how enables the viewing of multi-color universe with colorless photon. If one can not think, we call him/her idiot. By After David Eagleman's 'The Brain', it is another crispy and tasty book about brain. Author starts from evolution of brain from a simple cellular organism Amphioxi upto complex "three pound blob between ears" of human which has 128 billion neurons. The book compels readers to think about the process of seeing the world. The organ which is sitting in dark black box, named skull, how enables the viewing of multi-color universe with colorless photon. If one can not think, we call him/her idiot. By this definition, entire human race is idiot as brain's function is not thinking, rather predicting danger and helps to survive. The language is simple which makes the book more attractive to read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Justine

    Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing an ARC! _________________________________________ I don't really know what I expected from this book, probably something quite hard to understand. It was not: it was accessible, educational and super interesting! I learnt many things I didn't know at all - never heard of some of the concepts present in this book actually -; I was amazed at some lessons, for instance, the one about the triune brain, because I was convinced that it was Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing an ARC! _________________________________________ I don't really know what I expected from this book, probably something quite hard to understand. It was not: it was accessible, educational and super interesting! I learnt many things I didn't know at all - never heard of some of the concepts present in this book actually -; I was amazed at some lessons, for instance, the one about the triune brain, because I was convinced that it was true! I understood more about our species, and I absolutely adored the fact that the author acknowledges the fact that humans are not "better" than other species. She explains that our brain is just different, and that other species have, for us, super-powers that we'll never get. She brings humans closer to animals thanks to examples portraying, for instance, bees, rats or apes. I also loved the author's tone and her humour. I read the notes at the end of the book: they were more technical than the rest, but they were still great - I got some more reading to do now thanks to them! The main body of the text is quite simple to understand thanks to images, metaphors, examples and thanks to the way Lisa Feldman Barrett explains things. It's simple but effective: perfect. The book is also quite short, which can be surprising with such a subject. Even if it can feel like an introduction to people who already know these things about the brain, to me, it was a really great one, one that made me want to read more about it - and the first book of the author, How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain , which is in my radar since it came out! These seven lessons were taken by a fascinated student! So, to conclude: a great book to learn more about the brain in an effective and simple way!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Arvenig

    Hi everyone! This book is amazing! (I think it's the best book I've read on netgalley) In seven and a half lessons the author explains how our brain works and how it's different from other animals. She talks about the complexity our brain, unveiling myths that are still in our society, how the brain develops in children, its plasticity and the fact that sometimes we mistake our metaphors for knowledge... All in a simple and sometimes funny way, that keeps you entertained. In fact she uses a lot of Hi everyone! This book is amazing! (I think it's the best book I've read on netgalley) In seven and a half lessons the author explains how our brain works and how it's different from other animals. She talks about the complexity our brain, unveiling myths that are still in our society, how the brain develops in children, its plasticity and the fact that sometimes we mistake our metaphors for knowledge... All in a simple and sometimes funny way, that keeps you entertained. In fact she uses a lot of metaphors that make complex concepts very easy to understand and very light, like when she said: "in short, your brain's most important job is not thinking. It's running a little warm body that has become very, very complicated" If the brain intrigues you (even if you don't know anything about it) I definitely recommend this book! I also can't wait to read more books by this author.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ashlee Bree

    Do you know why brains evolved? What their primary purpose was, or is, in nature? Do you know why they came to exist in simple organisms? In the animal species? Within the human body? As it turns out, though some of us may find this news surprising, it wasn't - and isn't - to think. *time to roll the dice and try again* Brains evolved for a different reason entirely. One that is far simpler, far more primal, than we care to imagine: survival. In fact, that right there, is the first major misconcep Do you know why brains evolved? What their primary purpose was, or is, in nature? Do you know why they came to exist in simple organisms? In the animal species? Within the human body? As it turns out, though some of us may find this news surprising, it wasn't - and isn't - to think. *time to roll the dice and try again* Brains evolved for a different reason entirely. One that is far simpler, far more primal, than we care to imagine: survival. In fact, that right there, is the first major misconception, the first half lesson, Feldman Barrett dispels in this book before taking readers on an informative but concise overview of the brain and its chief functions. As she continues to bust brain myth after brain myth along the way, I might add. What's nice is that the scientific explanations to be found in these pages are not overwhelming. They're not bogged down by unpronounceable neuro-terminology or exhaustive detail that's liable to give its layperson-reader a migraine, either, which I'm sure most of you will be delighted to hear. (No brain freezes in sight, yay!) The author makes sure to attach relatable analogies and metaphors to the principles she's describing instead, making them easy for anyone without a science background to comprehend. Everything she presents is divulged in simple, bite-sized morsels. Most of the lessons only begin to scratch the surface of the brain's many facets and complexities, especially in humans, but that's kind of the whole point, you know what I mean? This is supposed to be a starting place. A summary. It's a minimalist introduction to all things Brain, so don't go into it thinking it will ascend you into starry-eyed Enlightenment or Information Density, because it won't. The brevity prohibits it, and do you know what? That's perfectly fine. It's just right, exactly what you need. For my own part, I think this book's aim may be to expose and unravel facts about the brain you may already know in some capacity, while also enticing you to apply them in a broader context. That's what it did for me, in any case. I couldn't stop mulling. Reflecting. Questioning. I found myself struck in thought - quite a few times - about how our brains can do things such as suppress traumatic or emotional memories, alter physical reality to fit our social needs/desires, or mask pain/symptoms from illnesses like cancer for extended periods of time. All of which makes sense if you think about the brain's main evolutionary focus: enabling our continual survival. Reading this prompted me to think through some of those things, and I loved it for that. Anyway, definitely worth a perusal if you're at all into brain learnin' like me! 3.5 stars Thank you to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the ARC!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Mikulsky

    This is a quick and simple book for anyone who wants to better understand how the brain and body works. This website is also a wonderful resource: www.sevenandahalflessons.com Check out the organization Seeds of Peace that brings together young people for cultures that in serious conflict. Aristotle believed the brain was a cooling chamber for the heart, sort of like the radiator in your car. Left hemisphere = Logic; Right = Creative. System 1 = Quick; System 2 = Slower, more thoughtful. Metaphors This is a quick and simple book for anyone who wants to better understand how the brain and body works. This website is also a wonderful resource: www.sevenandahalflessons.com Check out the organization Seeds of Peace that brings together young people for cultures that in serious conflict. Aristotle believed the brain was a cooling chamber for the heart, sort of like the radiator in your car. Left hemisphere = Logic; Right = Creative. System 1 = Quick; System 2 = Slower, more thoughtful. Metaphors by Daniel Kahneman. “In the real world, facts have some probability of being true or false in a particular context.” Henry Gee says in his book The Accidental Species, “science is a process of quantifying doubt.” Scientists work hard to avoid ideology, but people are sometimes guided by belief more than data. Many claims there are 85B neurons in your brain, yet your brain is a network of 128B neurons. The difference is how the neurons are counted – stereological methods which employ probability and statistics (128B) vs. isotropic fractionator which is simpler and quicker (85B). The brain is also made up of 69B other cells that are not neurons, called glial cells – that prevent chemical leaks. There are over 500T neuron-to-neuron connections. It’s like the air-travel system being a network of about 17k airports around the world. Your brain is constantly under construction and its network changes continuously. Neurons die, neurons are born. Connection become stronger when they fire together and weaker when they don’t. Your brain wiring is bathed in chemicals (e.g. glutamate, serotonin, and dopamine). These chemicals make it easier or harder for signals to pass across synapses. Some of these chemicals can also act on other neurotransmitters to dial up or dial down their effects (i.e. neuromodulators). Your brain network may even extend into your gut and intestines where scientists have found microbiomes that communicate with your brain via neurotransmitters. Myelin is the coating (or like insulation around electrical wires) around the trunk-like axon. Thicker coatings make signals travel faster. No neuron has a single psychological function, though a neuron may be more likely to contribute to some functions than others. Any neuron can do more than one thing. Degeneracy in the brain means that your actions and experiences can be created in multiple ways. In the 1960s, the Communist government of Romania outlawed most contraception and abortion. The President wanted to expand the population and become more of a world power. A huge increase in births, more children than many families could afford, led to hundreds of thousands of children sent to orphanages. Many were appallingly mistreated where their social needs went unmet. Babies were warehoused in rows of cribs with little simulation or social interaction. Nobody cuddled these babies, played with them, or sang to them. They were ignored. Consequently, the Romanian orphans grew up intellectually impaired, problem learning language, difficulty concentrating and resisting distractions, trouble controlling themselves; their bodies were stunted; their brains developed smaller than average. Childhood poverty is a colossal waste of human opportunity. Painter Marcel Duchamp said, “an artist does only 50% of the work in creating it. The remaining 50% is in the viewer’s brain.” You brain actively constructs your experiences. Your day-to-day experience is a carefully controlled hallucination. Freedom always comes with responsibility. “Sometimes we’re responsible for things not because they’re our fault, but because we’re the only ones who can change them.” “As the owner of a predicting brain, you have more control over your actions and experiences than you might think and more responsibility than you might want. But if you embrace this responsibility, think about the possibilities. What might your life be like? What kind of person might you become?” We live longer is we have close, supportive relationships with other people. We also get sick and die earlier when we persistently feel lonely. You brain becomes more vulnerable to stress of all kinds. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has no more scientific validity than horoscopes and does not consistently predict job performance. The test asks you what you believe about yourself. Yet, you must observe behavior in multiple contexts.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    This was a very positive and pleasant short book which challenges some of the popular metaphors about the brain and suggests a newer/better model. This is pretty much the standard belief within the field today, but the popular models haven't been updated. Specifically, the "three brains" model of Plato/Freud (where rational cognition is separate from emotions....) doesn't make sense; what does make sense is the brain as prediction engine and that it evolved due to predator/hunting behavior, and This was a very positive and pleasant short book which challenges some of the popular metaphors about the brain and suggests a newer/better model. This is pretty much the standard belief within the field today, but the popular models haven't been updated. Specifically, the "three brains" model of Plato/Freud (where rational cognition is separate from emotions....) doesn't make sense; what does make sense is the brain as prediction engine and that it evolved due to predator/hunting behavior, and that the prediction engine is so good that actions can be made before sensations are perceived, so a lot of things are retconned back into order. I think the author went a bit far in challenging the traditional models (which do have validity in predicting behavior...), but it was an interesting way to think about things. The book as a whole is too much on the informal side for my taste, but I think a lot of other books about the brain are far too unapproachable for the general audience, so it's probably a good balance, especially while keeping the book pretty short.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Deedi Brown (DeediReads)

    Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain is a snack of a book, a conversational, fascinating, and revelatory bundle of great metaphors on how our brains work. I read it as part of my subscription to the Next Big Idea Club, which always has great selections. I think this book does a great job of being “science for non-scientists” — it isn’t stuffy or jargony, nor is it simplified to the point of condescension. Barret does a really great job using metaphors and relating the information back to why Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain is a snack of a book, a conversational, fascinating, and revelatory bundle of great metaphors on how our brains work. I read it as part of my subscription to the Next Big Idea Club, which always has great selections. I think this book does a great job of being “science for non-scientists” — it isn’t stuffy or jargony, nor is it simplified to the point of condescension. Barret does a really great job using metaphors and relating the information back to why it’s so important in real life (with some great party facts thrown in along the way.) I especially appreciated the framing of the middle couple of sections, about how our knowledge about neuroscience leads to a responsibility — for our children, for our own actions, for our habits and our futures, and for how we treat others. At about 125 pages, this one’s worth devouring in an afternoon!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Adam Z

    I found the first two or three lessons to be very informative, and I enjoyed the writing style very much. The rest of the chapters mostly contained information that I have previously read in "On Intelligence" by Jeff Hawkins, and "Sapiens" by Yuval Noah Harari (with much greater appreciation). There was a steep decline in the writing style of those chapters, as though the author did not manage to have them properly edited and reviewed. It is a very short book, and each lesson takes around 20 min I found the first two or three lessons to be very informative, and I enjoyed the writing style very much. The rest of the chapters mostly contained information that I have previously read in "On Intelligence" by Jeff Hawkins, and "Sapiens" by Yuval Noah Harari (with much greater appreciation). There was a steep decline in the writing style of those chapters, as though the author did not manage to have them properly edited and reviewed. It is a very short book, and each lesson takes around 20 minutes to read. I would only recommend this book to people who haven't read about neuroscience and want an introduction to some of our modern insights about the brain.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lorenz Van

    Interesting quick read Well written, makes some controversial yet compelling points regarding how our brain works that might just change the future of several brain-related fields such as neuroscience and psychology

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Lauren

    Love this book- the subject matter, the writing style and the author's points. The writing is excellent, the author makes complex structures and processes clear and accessible. The book is well organized, building on previous information so understanding the more complicated concepts is straightforward. Many of the things we think we understand about the brain and how it works are based on misinformation and is just plain wrong. The author takes us through the basis for the incorrect information Love this book- the subject matter, the writing style and the author's points. The writing is excellent, the author makes complex structures and processes clear and accessible. The book is well organized, building on previous information so understanding the more complicated concepts is straightforward. Many of the things we think we understand about the brain and how it works are based on misinformation and is just plain wrong. The author takes us through the basis for the incorrect information and how it needs to be corrected. Its short, sweet and to the point. thanks this was a great book to read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    If you're relatively neuro-fluent and haven't read it yet, I'd recommend picking up LFB's much more elaborate and detailed (and quite a bit longer) How Emotions Are Made instead, which despite its title is really an excellent primer on contemporary neuroscience in general. Since I teach in this field, there wasn't much here that was new to me. But its brevity here is a power - the book can serve simultaneously as an organizer or synthesis of our current state of knowledge for those who already k If you're relatively neuro-fluent and haven't read it yet, I'd recommend picking up LFB's much more elaborate and detailed (and quite a bit longer) How Emotions Are Made instead, which despite its title is really an excellent primer on contemporary neuroscience in general. Since I teach in this field, there wasn't much here that was new to me. But its brevity here is a power - the book can serve simultaneously as an organizer or synthesis of our current state of knowledge for those who already know a lot about the brain as well as an accessible introduction for people looking to start their journey. Well-written, engaging, clear. Could easily be used as a companion text in a lot of classes.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tretiakov Alexander

    Can't say that I learned a lot. Also, even though the author is saying she is trying not to mix science with politics -- she does, which I think detracts from her message. Can't say that I learned a lot. Also, even though the author is saying she is trying not to mix science with politics -- she does, which I think detracts from her message.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amit Verma

    There are so many books about brain and neuroscience. But most of them are bulky and lose track somewhere in the middle. When they enter into exhaustive details, interest of the reader wanes. This one is different. It is concise. It tells so much, but uses so little space. It is very interesting read. It starts with most prehistoric brain in small sea animals. It describes events and principles with easily understandable metaphors. It focuses in long term myths and wrong representative terms in neu There are so many books about brain and neuroscience. But most of them are bulky and lose track somewhere in the middle. When they enter into exhaustive details, interest of the reader wanes. This one is different. It is concise. It tells so much, but uses so little space. It is very interesting read. It starts with most prehistoric brain in small sea animals. It describes events and principles with easily understandable metaphors. It focuses in long term myths and wrong representative terms in neurosciences and concept of plasticity. A very good highly readable book. Somewhere at end it slips into ethics and politics which could have been best avoided. Still a very good book for busy science enthusiastic readers.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Seven and a Half Lessons about the Brain is an informative, thought provoking, and readable book. Written as a collection of essays that walk you through how the brain has evolved, how it grows, and how it worked in the context of how we perceive and react to the world. The book also addresses common, pervasive, misconceptions about the brain (no, we don’t have a “lizard brain” and our brain has many of the same parts as other mammals, just in a different proportion, and it’s not just nature vs Seven and a Half Lessons about the Brain is an informative, thought provoking, and readable book. Written as a collection of essays that walk you through how the brain has evolved, how it grows, and how it worked in the context of how we perceive and react to the world. The book also addresses common, pervasive, misconceptions about the brain (no, we don’t have a “lizard brain” and our brain has many of the same parts as other mammals, just in a different proportion, and it’s not just nature vs nurture: they interact.) . Learning what is not true was as interesting as learning what is true. Each essay is factual -- with the occasional identified opinion. There are notes at the end of the book that get into some details and also refer you to the companion web site for more information, including citations. This makes for a good casual quick read that allows you to go deeper when you want. The end notes are about 1/3 of the book the are also an informative and entertaining read. One recurring theme is how we tends to use metaphor and models even as we discuss the brain. Unfortunately we take these too literally, as demonstrated by the persistence of the lizard brain concept, and more ominously, how we form and act on negative views of other groups. Along the way of discussing the mechanics of the brain, the author veers into politics and society issues at times, which isn’t unreasonable. Humans. Are social creatures and our brain influences how we perceive things, and is influenced by the world around us and how others act, and you’d miss a lot if you didn’t understand how the way the brain works impacts how we interact with it, and the people in in. At one point, a discussion of how we can reframe our responses to negative events, I found myself recalling a section from Mans Search for Meaning, where Frankel talks about similar ideas. Short, but informative and detailed, and dense but readable 7 1/2 ideas about the brain is a good book to read if you want to think about how we think.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gary Moreau

    This is a very readable, concise summary of what we currently know about the brain. And it’s fascinating. “But you don’t sense with your sensory organs. You sense with your brain.” Or, “Your view of the world is no photograph. It’s a construction of your brain that is so fluid and so convincing that it appears to be accurate. But sometimes it’s not.” Perhaps the book’s greatest point of distinction, however, is the author’s clear explanation of what science is and is not. And it could not be time This is a very readable, concise summary of what we currently know about the brain. And it’s fascinating. “But you don’t sense with your sensory organs. You sense with your brain.” Or, “Your view of the world is no photograph. It’s a construction of your brain that is so fluid and so convincing that it appears to be accurate. But sometimes it’s not.” Perhaps the book’s greatest point of distinction, however, is the author’s clear explanation of what science is and is not. And it could not be timelier. You can’t turn on the television or click on an internet news site these days without encountering the debate. “Follow the science,” which is a sentiment I strongly share, particularly when it comes to pandemics, is often bandied about without a clear understanding of what it really means. Not so long ago the words science and philosophy, the latter of which many consider not to be science at all, were synonymous. One of the most important works in modern science, written by Sir Isaac Newton in 1687, actually used the word philosophy in its title. Science is not a body of knowledge or a simple set of irrefutable facts. It is a methodology for interpreting the reality around us. Or, as Feldman Barrett notes, “Scientists normally try to avoid saying that something is fact or is definitely true or false. In the real world, facts have some probability of being true or false in a particular context.” Or in a quote she attributes to Henry Gee, “science is a process of quantifying doubt.” As a result, while this book provides a completely different view of the brain than most of us probably hold, I doubt even the author would claim it to be definitive or exhaustive. It marks a milestone along a very long path that is sure to become even more fascinating the further along it we travel. You can read the book in a few hours. But you will think about it (although perhaps not in the way you have previously thought of thought) for much, much longer than that.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Angie Boyter

    4+ In her Author’s Note for Seven and a Half Lessons about the Brain Lisa Feldman Barrett describes her book as “short, informal essays to intrigue and entertain you” A perfect description! This is one of those books that make you want to stop very frequently to share some tidbit with your long-suffering spouse (Of course, he found them as much fun as I did.). For example, there was a very insightful discussion of the impact of “body budgeting” on empathy, explaining why at the brain level it is 4+ In her Author’s Note for Seven and a Half Lessons about the Brain Lisa Feldman Barrett describes her book as “short, informal essays to intrigue and entertain you” A perfect description! This is one of those books that make you want to stop very frequently to share some tidbit with your long-suffering spouse (Of course, he found them as much fun as I did.). For example, there was a very insightful discussion of the impact of “body budgeting” on empathy, explaining why at the brain level it is harder to empathize with people who are less familiar to you. I especially enjoyed hearing about a study that found that if you are exposed to social stress within two hours of a meal, your body metabolizes the food in a way that adds 104 calories to the meal, which could add up to 11 pounds gained in a year if it happens daily! Each essay covers a different subject, such as “Your Brain Predicts (Almost) Everything You Do”, and I enjoyed them all. My favorite, though, was “Your Brain Secretly Works with Other Brains”, which showed how we affect each other pervasively at the most basic levels. As the author also says, this is NOT a full tutorial on the brain, but there is a fair amount of discussion of brain structure and similar subject in the first lesson or two, so be prepared. In order to express complex concepts, she uses a lot of metaphors, like when she compares the brain’s wiring arrangement to the global air-travel system. The metaphors were clever and apt, but I sometimes had trouble imagining them. This was the only flaw I found in an otherwise fascinating book that I will be recommending to all my friends. My thanks to Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Makala

    Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain goes over a brief overview on the basic function of the brain, both on an interpersonal level but also on a social level. I found this book fairly intriguing to go through as it provided a lot of information and clarified common misconceptions about the human brain. I did happen to know a lot of this information already, but the writing was enjoyable and the author made interesting commentary on how the brain is multifaceted. I think this is a good book fo Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain goes over a brief overview on the basic function of the brain, both on an interpersonal level but also on a social level. I found this book fairly intriguing to go through as it provided a lot of information and clarified common misconceptions about the human brain. I did happen to know a lot of this information already, but the writing was enjoyable and the author made interesting commentary on how the brain is multifaceted. I think this is a good book for people who are interested in reading about the brain but have not done a lot of reading about it already. I wish the notes in the back were integrated better into the text rather than put in the back. I also wish that there was discussion about atypical brains such as autism or schizophrenia but this book focuses on the general populace instead. 4/5

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    Having read 75 of the 125 text pages, I found this a disappointing book and patted myself on the back for deciding to put it down. The content seemed more like a detailed outline for an eventual longer tome rather than a stand-alone book. The author's writing style was an interruption to my thought rather than a comfortable, sufficiently detailed flow. Perhaps it is just me. If I am reading a scientific book about a scientific topic, my preference is for an in-depth, well researched, fully explai Having read 75 of the 125 text pages, I found this a disappointing book and patted myself on the back for deciding to put it down. The content seemed more like a detailed outline for an eventual longer tome rather than a stand-alone book. The author's writing style was an interruption to my thought rather than a comfortable, sufficiently detailed flow. Perhaps it is just me. If I am reading a scientific book about a scientific topic, my preference is for an in-depth, well researched, fully explained text written as a story so the information is accessible. Lisa Feldman Barrett's book read like a teaser designed to draw students in to her classes at Northeastern. Given that most of the combined ratings from reviewers yielded just over four stars, I'll accept that the book is simply not my taste for scientific reading.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Paul Van Katwyk

    It was a very helpful and enlightening update on where the the field of neurology is on the study of the brain. It challenged some of the old and very persistent assumptions with what has been learned through the current tools of this field. Appreciated her astute use of metaphors to explain points and concepts. My concern was that it seemed to suggest that neurology was the base and primary source on the brain and thus she moved into areas that are best explored with a deeper appreciation and i It was a very helpful and enlightening update on where the the field of neurology is on the study of the brain. It challenged some of the old and very persistent assumptions with what has been learned through the current tools of this field. Appreciated her astute use of metaphors to explain points and concepts. My concern was that it seemed to suggest that neurology was the base and primary source on the brain and thus she moved into areas that are best explored with a deeper appreciation and integration of fields including psychology, philosophy, sociology and ontology for more rich and grounded explorations on how this amazing organ works to make sense. Maybe her earlier books on emotion and the brain provide greater context. So I am left interested to read these as she appears to be a very credible writer.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jake

    A book perhaps meant for the educated individual with curiosity to lightly dip their feet into the vast sea of neuroscience. It’s stress I’d argue is mostly one of neuropsychology - something that should be unsurprising given the authors specialty in the neuroscience of emotion. As can be seen in her previous book, How emotions are made (which I highly recommend ). In this book one will gain some basic principals of how modern neuroscientists are developing in terms of their current perception of A book perhaps meant for the educated individual with curiosity to lightly dip their feet into the vast sea of neuroscience. It’s stress I’d argue is mostly one of neuropsychology - something that should be unsurprising given the authors specialty in the neuroscience of emotion. As can be seen in her previous book, How emotions are made (which I highly recommend ). In this book one will gain some basic principals of how modern neuroscientists are developing in terms of their current perception of wide scale brain functioning ,and its development. It is a curious book, and enters the literature of pop sci books like Carlo Rovelli’s seven brief lessons on physics. Recommended for : -Those sitting in an airport - those curious about an introduction to neuroscience

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kasra

    A brief pop science book that can dramatically change the way you look at things. It challenges our philosophy of life specially those of us who look so highly of ourselves as an species by scientifically demonstrating what our brains are wired to do which is to merely maintain homeostasis and manage body budget for survival. But the author proceeds to explain several insightful capabilities of our brains for example how they can alter the immediate reality around us, sometimes even capable of o A brief pop science book that can dramatically change the way you look at things. It challenges our philosophy of life specially those of us who look so highly of ourselves as an species by scientifically demonstrating what our brains are wired to do which is to merely maintain homeostasis and manage body budget for survival. But the author proceeds to explain several insightful capabilities of our brains for example how they can alter the immediate reality around us, sometimes even capable of overriding what is happening in the real world so we can see them differently. I specially liked the stance the author takes on the discourse of freewill or fate from the brain point of view.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mike Walter

    An Interesting Look Inside Our Head I’ve always been fascinated by evolution and my favorite parts of this book were when Barrett got into how our brains evolved. I especially appreciated this observation: “Your brain is not more evolved than a rat or lizard brain, just differently evolved.” I’ve also heard in many a seminar about our triune brains (with it’s supposed lizard core) so it was refreshing to hear that theory debunked. This was a very quick read, more like a 7 part magazine article th An Interesting Look Inside Our Head I’ve always been fascinated by evolution and my favorite parts of this book were when Barrett got into how our brains evolved. I especially appreciated this observation: “Your brain is not more evolved than a rat or lizard brain, just differently evolved.” I’ve also heard in many a seminar about our triune brains (with it’s supposed lizard core) so it was refreshing to hear that theory debunked. This was a very quick read, more like a 7 part magazine article than a book. But all in all I enjoyed it and I definitely learned more about my own brain in the process

  26. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Hurley

    This book is absolutely excellent; I couldn’t put it down. It’s fairly short, but the author is succinct and clear in her writing about a complex topic in the brain. She employs many analogies to make otherwise difficult subject matter easily accessible to readers. You’ll learn quite a bit about how our brain works! I can’t recommend this highly enough. In a world where people fill pages just to fill pages and push their book to be longer for the sake of it, this is a breath of fresh air. You ge This book is absolutely excellent; I couldn’t put it down. It’s fairly short, but the author is succinct and clear in her writing about a complex topic in the brain. She employs many analogies to make otherwise difficult subject matter easily accessible to readers. You’ll learn quite a bit about how our brain works! I can’t recommend this highly enough. In a world where people fill pages just to fill pages and push their book to be longer for the sake of it, this is a breath of fresh air. You get a concentrated dose of interesting learning! Get this and read it!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Peter O'Kelly

    Some related resources to consider: • Book site: https://sevenandahalflessons.com/note... • Review: ○ https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-re... • Podcast interviews: ○ https://omny.fm/shows/inquiring-minds... ○ https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/... Some related resources to consider: • Book site: https://sevenandahalflessons.com/note... • Review: ○ https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-re... • Podcast interviews: ○ https://omny.fm/shows/inquiring-minds... ○ https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Milan B

    I need to think about this more and edit this review later. tl;dr it's a good book, and on the plus side, it's very short, but on the other hand, it's very short and costs €26 The first few chapters are great, but it felt a bit like chapters 6-7 just slipped into a very obvious "well, social reality exists, don't be an asshole maybe?" - it was perfectly fine, just a bit too obvious for me, but I have not dived into the online-only appendix that goes into deeper neuroscience details with references I need to think about this more and edit this review later. tl;dr it's a good book, and on the plus side, it's very short, but on the other hand, it's very short and costs €26 The first few chapters are great, but it felt a bit like chapters 6-7 just slipped into a very obvious "well, social reality exists, don't be an asshole maybe?" - it was perfectly fine, just a bit too obvious for me, but I have not dived into the online-only appendix that goes into deeper neuroscience details with references to specific studies. All that said, I will for sure go back and re-read it, and probably gift it to a few friends once it's available as a $10 paperback.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dibyajit Patra

    In this ever changing world with reemerging social and racial divide and political scenarios influenced by scientific development we might need and will need to look into ourselves that who we are ,, nothing created that understanding more than our own history and physiology the brain are us and vice versa ,, a great work by author to write this amazing feat of science and common sense,,, great work.....♥️♥️♥️

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mousami Shinde

    Rating: 3.5 I like this book for not bringing up the female brain vs male brain discussion so prevalent in neuroscience, and for all the layman explanations about a topic as complex and vast as the brain, though it does get repetitive sometimes. Would recommend this book to an American (or Westerner or whatever) looking forward to an introduction to Neuroscience, and won't mind the subtle otheriz-ation of various cultures. Rating: 3.5 I like this book for not bringing up the female brain vs male brain discussion so prevalent in neuroscience, and for all the layman explanations about a topic as complex and vast as the brain, though it does get repetitive sometimes. Would recommend this book to an American (or Westerner or whatever) looking forward to an introduction to Neuroscience, and won't mind the subtle otheriz-ation of various cultures.

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