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A spirited collection of essays by cutting-edge neuroscientists that irreverently explores the quirky and counterintuitive aspects of brain function Neuroscientist David J. Linden approached leading brain researchers and asked each the same question: What idea about brain function would you most like to explain to the world? Their responses make up this one-of-a-kind collection of popular science essays that seeks to expand our knowledge of the human mind and its possibilities. The contributors, whose areas of expertise include human behavior, molecular genetics, evolutionary biology, and comparative anatomy, address a host of fascinating topics ranging from personality to perception, to learning, to beauty, to love and sex. The manner in which individual experiences can dramatically change our brains' makeup is explored. Professor Linden and his contributors open a new window onto the landscape of the human mind and into the cutting-edge world of neuroscience with a fascinating and enlightening compilation that science enthusiasts and professionals alike will find accessible and enjoyable.
Why does holding a hot drink make us like people more? How can a soldier under fire not even notice he's been shot? What makes sex so much fun? Touch is the most important sense we have. Without it, we cannot entirely feel pleasure or pain - we are less than human. In fact, as David Linden demonstrates in the astonishing stories gathered here, touch is central to who we are - from choosing our partners to comforting us on our deathbeds. Exploring the many surprising facts and myths about our sense of touch, Linden reveals how it defines us - and how, by understanding it, we can better know ourselves.
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.