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Books on the brain

19th May 2011 - Chrissie Foyle

The brain (yesterday)2011 is seeing a flurry of interest in the latest understandings of the human brain. Whether reading the newspaper, online articles or even fashion magazines, we are perpetually being faced with the latest theories on cognitive function and the tension between the conscious and unconscious mind.

With a significant number of titles out recently or due in the coming months, Foyles has noticed a significant shift in the previous perceptions of neuroscience from the academic to the mainstream.

Search engine statistics are recording a marked rise in searches for information on the 'unsolved' aspects of the brain such as Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease), sleep, perception, decision-making, attention and awareness.

While we continue to look for the answers, here are some mind-boggling books to put your thinking caps to good use:


Incognito by David Eagleman
image of david eagleman's incognitoA stunning exploration of the we behind the I. Eagleman reveals, with his typical grace and eloquence, all the neural magic tricks behind the cognitive illusion we call reality' - Jonah Lehrer. If the conscious mind - the part you consider you - is just the tip of the iceberg, what is the rest doing? In this dazzling new book, renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman navigates the depths of the subconscious brain to illuminate surprising mysteries:

  • Why can your foot move halfway to the brake pedal before you become consciously aware of danger ahead?
  • Why do you notice when your name is mentioned in a conversation that you didn't think you were listening to?
  • What do Ulysses and the credit crunch have in common?
  • Why did Thomas Edison electrocute an elephant in 1916?
  • Why are people whose name begins with J more likely to marry other people whose name begins with J?
  • Why is it so difficult to keep a secret?
  • How is it possible to get angry at yourself and who, exactly, is angry at whom?

Taking in brain damage, plane spotting, dating, drugs, beauty, infidelity, synaesthesia, criminal law, artificial intelligence and visual illusions, Incognito is a thrilling subsurface exploration of the mind and all its contradictions.


Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer

image of proust neuroscience bookIs science the only path to knowledge? In this sparkling and provocative book Jonah Lehrer, author of The Decisive Moment, explains that when it comes to understanding the brain, art got there first.

Taking a group of celebrated writers, painters and composers, Lehrer shows us how artists have discovered truths about the human mind - real, tangible truths - that science is only now rediscovering.

We learn, for example, how Proust first revealed the fallibility of memory; how George Eliot understood the brain's malleable nature; how the French chef Escoffier intuited umami (the fifth taste); how Cezanne worked out the subtleties of vision; and how Virginia Woolf pierced the mysteries of consciousness.

It's a riveting tale of art trumping science, again and again.


The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine

image of louann brizendine's female brain bookIn this groundbreaking book, Dr Louann Brizendine describes the uniquely flexible structure of the female brain and its constant, dynamic state of change - the key difference that separates it from that of the male - and reveals how women think, what they value, how they communicate, and whom they'll love.

She also reveals the neurological explanations behind why:

  • a woman remembers fights that a man insists never happened
  • thoughts about sex enter a woman's brain perhaps once every couple of days, but may enter a man's brain up to once every minute
  • a woman's brain goes on high alert during pregnancy - and stays that way long after giving birth
  • a woman over 50 is more likely to initiate divorce than a man
  • women tend to know what people are feeling, while men can't spot an emotion unless someone cries or threatens them with bodily harm

Accessible, fun and compelling, and based on more than three decades of research, The Female Brain will help women to better understand themselves - and the men in their lives.

You can find a fiull list our our recommended titles, both fiction and non-fiction, on the science of the brain on our Special Offers page; click below to see the full list.


Linking image for Book on the Brain Special Offer

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