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Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  18,166 Ratings  ·  1,314 Reviews
If the conscious mind—the part you consider to be you—is just the tip of the iceberg, what is the rest doing?
In this sparkling and provocative new book, the 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 dange
Published May 31st 2011 by Random House Audio (first published 2011)
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Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Let me start with the easy stuff. On a literary note, this book is entertaining. However, it reads more like a series of interesting essays on neuroscience rather than a book.

Let me move on to the more interesting stuff. This book is deceptive. Eagleman uses a "slight of hand" writing style. Just as he describes how magic tricks deceive the brain, Eagleman uses this entertaining little book to advocate for a social and justice system that disregards civil rights.

How does he do this? He strings
May 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, science
*I am required to disclose that I received this book as a freebie from the Goodreads first reads giveaway program, but don't worry, this doesn't obligate me to say only good things.

Though I give the book four stars and have already recommended it to more people than any book I've ever read, I would strongly disagree with the first reviewer that the book is an "engaging romp" or "fun".
The book is, and should be, profoundly unsettling, though for reasons which make it all the more important to con
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must read! What a fascinating book. Not only full of interesting ideas, but also hugely readable.

It's a mouthful, but relevant, to mention that the author is director of Baylor College of Medicine's Initiative on Neuroscience and Law, at Stanford University.

As the book progresses, it can be seen as an argument for assessing and handling criminals differently. Eagleman thinks we should pay much more attention to the physical and psychological factors which may influence individual crim
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: neuroscience
ظاهرا روحی در کار نیست!!!
این کتاب هم مثل بقیه کتابهایی که توی زمینه نوروساینس (عصب شناسی مغز) خوندم بسیار از چیزهایی رو که در مورد مذهب و دین به ما گفتن رو با اصول و علم و مثال های بسیار زیر سوال می بره
یادمه کتاب های دینیمون یه سری دلایل برای اثبات روح میاوردن به طور مثال رویاهای صادقه یا خواب هایی که می بینیم و حکایت از آینده می کنن
یا ارگان های بدن مثل قلب و و معده و رگها که چه طور بدون کنترل ما کار می کنن
یا اینکه اگر عضوی از بدن قطع بشه خصوصیات اخلاقی شخص تغییری نخواهد کرد
متاسفانه یا خوش بختا
5★ from both sides of my brain
The only David Eagleman book I’d read was my favourite book, Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives, a collection of extremely short extremely thought-provoking stories. So I really wasn’t sure what to expect from a book from his “day job” as a neuroscientist. I needn’t have worried.

While this is a non-fiction book about the biology of the brain, it is just as intriguingly thought-provoking as Sum. There are footnotes and an extensive reference list and index, for the
Carolyn Lane
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Neuroscientists need to be pretty smart people. Even smarter is the neuroscientist who can produce writing which is attractive and appealing to our less-informed minds. David Eagleman can.

Incognito is a wide-ranging and entertaining look at the development of our thinking about thinking, and the current state of brain-science. He covers
• how and why we have practically no conscious knowledge of what’s going on in the incredibly complex machinery of our brains, and why the “chief executive” (ou
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, psychology
This was a much better book than I thought it was going to be and a much better book than you might think from even flicking through it. You know, there are cartoons and while this isn't a guaranteed sign that things will be bad, it is the next best thing to a guarantee.

And I listened to this as a talking book - and the author reads the book. This, too, is generally a mistake. But he did a reasonable job even here, although, to be honest, I think he would have been better served with a professio
Cem Binbir
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bilinçaltı dediğimiz kısmın, beynin işleyişinde aslında ne kadar baskın olduğunu örnekler ve araştırma sonuçlarıyla anlatan bir kitap. Bunun yanında, özellikle yakın zamanda edinilen çeşitli bilgiler üzerinden gelecekteki toplum yaşamına, suç, ceza ve adalet kavramlarına dair yorumlarda da bulunuyor yazar. Bu konularda bilimsel gündemi yakından takip ediyor, çokça makale / kitap okuyorsanız bu kitap size ilginç gelmeyebilir. Ama genel bir ilginiz var ve bilginizi arttırmak istiyorsanız faydalı o ...more
Alisa Kester
Jun 30, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Another hard one to review. If I were going by the first few chapters, it would have been not only five stars, but one of my personal 'Best Books of 2011'. However, in the last two thirds the content took a nose dive into absurdity. The author first attempts to prove that we have no free will, because much of our behavior is ruled by the subconscious. Um...last time I checked, my subconscious was still *me*. Then, the author puts forward a case that because criminals do bad things, they are clea ...more
د.أمجد الجنباز
كتاب جميل جدا، يطرح فكرة جديدة عن كيفية عمل الدماغ بشكل خارج عن ارادتنا

بالرغم من ان هذه الفكرة موجودة في كتب أخرى، لكن الكتاب بكامله يتمحور حول ذلك.

من الامثلة المذكورة
كيف يتحول مرضى بارنكنسون الذين يتعالجون بالأدوية إلى مدمنين على المقامرة
كيف يتسبب ورم صغير بالدماغ إلى تحويل الشخص إلى مجرم، أو حتى تغيير رغبته الجنسية وتحويله إلى متحرش بالأطفال

وهنا يخرج المؤلف بنتيجة مرعبة
وهي أننا لسنا مسؤلين عن الغالبية العظمى من من سلوكنا
وانما هي بسبب دماغنا، الذي جاءنا بالوراثة

وهنا يطرح قضية خطيرة في النهاية
Apr 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This very interesting and thought provoking book by neuroscientist David Eagleman is a little disorienting. After all, based on the numerous observations and scientific experiments he details Eagleman’s conclusion is that we have no freewill. I may think I am considering options, making decisions, and choosing, for instance, what book to read, but according to scientists who study these things I am not in charge, if by “I” what I mean is the “I” that I know--my conscious mind. It’s not surprisin ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
Wow what a surprise this one was! A must read!
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Do you believe in libertarian free will or Cartesian dualism? If so, David Eagleman’s Incognito will radically challenge your beliefs.

Incognito is probably the best work of nonfiction that I have read this year (2011), and it is also one of the best books on neuroscience that I have read in quite some time. Some of the material here has been presented elsewhere (if you have read works on neuroscience or consciousness by scientists and philosophers like Antonio Damasio, V. S. Ramachandran, Joseph
May 09, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: non-fiction
Ever land on a question in the Never-Ending Book Quiz about a book that you've read but remember very little of? Ever find that, despite drawing a blank on the multiple choice answers, you usually get it right if you just go with the first choice that pops into your head? Ever wonder why? Then this book is for you.

Incognito is an engaging and eye-opening romp through fundamental questions related to human consciousness, perception, and free will, as seen through the lens of neuroscientific resea
Jun 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's the same-old, same-old (if you've ever read a book about the brain) for the first 75%, and then some new stuff about how neuroscience can and should change the criminal justice system in the last part. I did like this comparison: finding out that we don't have as much control over ourselves as we thought we did is like astronomers discovering that the earth was not the center of the universe. It shouldn't depress us; it should invigorate further study. Not too much to apply to teaching in t ...more
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review gelecek :)
Feb 11, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Disclaimer: I have not actually finished this book and do not know if I will.

As someone who's very interested in neurology this book does have it's good moments, but they're largely eclipsed by a bunch of dumbing down.

I don't blame Eagleman, I know it's people in the publishing industry who probably pushed this book to be like this. Following is my reaction to each element I found annoying. There's a summary at the end.

Dumbing it down: Too much repetition and unnecessary metaphors. I do not kn
Dec 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, biology
This book starts off with a really poor introduction. Poor, because it tries too hard, is hyperbolic, and contains two glaring errors!

More on those later. The book runs the gambit of freshman-level psychology with the Freud, the subconscious, chicken sexing (not as dirty as it sounds), priming, synesthesia, etc. It introduces a theory of mind based on a team of rivals, which is pretty neat.

The author puts in his two cents on the justice system. He calls for less emphasis on modifiability rather
Isil Arican
Very simply narrated neuroscience book that explains some of the interesting neuroscientific phenomena. The writer has a easy to read style with many examples, and even though he does not go deep, he tells a lot about interesting things surrounding cognitive science. If I was a new reader to the area, probably I would have liked the book better and would give more stars. However, it was not very fulfilling for me, since I read a lot about on the same subject, and some of them were much better an ...more
This was very enlightening - and I don’t think I’ll be able to think the same way about driving, or making choices, or anything I do or think again! I’ve mentioned this book in several conversations I’ve had with people recently, but now that I’m sitting down to write a review, I’m not sure that I can actually put my finger on exactly what I liked about this book - there was so much to take in, that a brief review can hardly do it justice.

Some of the things I thought were especially interesting
keith koenigsberg
The first downfall of this book is, it is Malcolm Gladwellian in construction. The author pulls in anecdotes and creates his own analogies from "common sense" to make his point. After a while, you get the sense that he is just using the stories and studies which suit his purposes, and leaving the rest out. Very anecdotal. A quick look online and I found a few of his scientific assertions to be half-truths at best. What a shame.

The second downfall is that the author isn't half the writer that Mal
Jul 12, 2017 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Отзивът ми (на английски) е при оригинала. Тук само ще кажа, че горещо препоръчвам книгата, ако се интересувате от начините, по които работи мозъкът ни. Тя съдържа множество неочевидни, а пораждащи челопляс наблюдения. Аз не съм се чувствал толкова мотивиран да си преосмисля мозъка ;) от „Мисленето“ на Канеман насам.
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
29 Оct 2014: Just finished editing the Bulgarian translation. My inner selves--as is their wont at the end of a road--are still in a jumble. A more coherent review coming soon. ;)

What I'd like to note right now is: this is another book I highly recommend to scientists and laymen alike. If you've ever struggled with questions such as "Telepathy? What do you mean, reading my mind? Am I supposed to have only one of them?" or "So who is the real me? The one who passionately believes in ahimsa and no
Martha Love
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eagleman raises more questions about the human condition than answers and I find this delightful. I am giving this book a 5 star rating because I think he did a superior job of citing and giving his opinions of the research in neuroscience at the time of the writing of it and because he intrigues my own mind to explore his ideas further.

I particularly like what Eagleman has to say about the enteric nervous system and it's importance as an example of running as a human system that is not regulat
Egypt Scholars Scholars
كتابنا لهذا اليوم لعالم الأعصاب ديفد إيجلمان، و هو بعنوان:

Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain

و هو رحلةٌ حقيقيةٌ مليئةٌ بالتشويق و الإثارة يسبر فيها الكاتب أغوار الدماغ و يتجول بين جنبات و ثنايا المخ و يغوص في بحر أسراره المدهشة.

يقرر الكاتب في أول صفحة من الكتاب أن مخ الإنسان - الذي لا يتجاوز وزنه الكيلو و النصف- يعد أعقد و أعجب و أغرب كيان تم اكتشافه في الكون، و يبرر الكاتب هذا الوصف بما في المخ من بناء متراكب معقد يتألف من ملايين ملايين الخلايا و العقد و الروابط العصبية.

و بعد عرض مختصر ل
Lynne King
Jan 20, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: disappointed
I'm fascinated with anything to do with the brain and this was recommended to me. So when I saw all the reviews and that it was a New York Times best seller, I thought this has got to be good and immediately ordered the book.

I soon discovered I just didn't like the style of writing, the way in which the subject was explained, skim-read looking for something really good to catch my interest, found very little, and sailed through to the end of the book at page 254.

What did interest me though were
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: neuroscience
Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman

"Incognito" is a fascinating look into our brain and the secrets that it reveals. It's a wonderful book that covers recent findings of mainly the unconscious processes of our brains. Neuroscientist and best-selling author, David Eagleman takes the reader on a journey of discovery of our brains; an enjoyable and enlightening ride that makes the young field of neuroscience fun and informative. This instructive 304-page book is composed of
Loy Machedo
Sep 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loy Machedo’s Book Review – Incognito by David Eagleman

1. Why does your foot hit the break pedal before you are conscious of danger ahead?
2. Why do you hear your name in a conversation that you didn’t think you were listening to?
3. Why is a person whose name begins with J more likely to marry another person whose name begins with J?
4. Why is it so difficult to keep a secret?
5. How is it possible to get angry at yourself: who, exactly is mad at whom?
6. Are some marriage partners more likely to ch
Jun 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Imagine a person riding an elephant, nudging it along and sometimes unable to stop the movement and direction of the elephant. Who is the stronger of the two? The elephant. Can the rider direct the elephant? Sometimes. Some people analogize the conscious mind to that rider and the unconscious mind to the elephant.

Incognito states this concept more elegantly, "Your consciousness is like a tiny stowaway on a transatlantic steamship, taking credit for the journey without acknowledging the massive e
Hacer Ozel
The premise of the book is that unbeknownst to us, our brains undertake zillions of operations, most of it neurally preordained, genetically wired, and simply inaccessible to our consciousness. Whatever we take to be our conscious self is in fact responsible for much less than it likes to take credit for in our quotidian decision-making, desires, urges, even our whole essence and personality. Establishing this brings forth the questioning of the existence of free will, and later in the book, of ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain 1 6 Sep 15, 2012 01:49PM  
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  • The Ego Trick: In Search Of The Self
  • Wednesday Is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia
  • Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn
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  • Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are
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David Eagleman is a neuroscientist, a New York Times bestselling author, and a Guggenheim Fellow. During the day he runs a neuroscience research laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine in the Texas Medical Center in Houston. At night he writes. His books have been translated into 23 languages.
More about David Eagleman...

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“Imagine for a moment that we are nothing but the product of billions of years of molecules coming together and ratcheting up through natural selection, that we are composed only of highways of fluids and chemicals sliding along roadways within billions of dancing cells, that trillions of synaptic conversations hum in parallel, that this vast egglike fabric of micron-thin circuitry runs algorithms undreamt of in modern science, and that these neural programs give rise to our decision making, loves, desires, fears, and aspirations. To me, that understanding would be a numinous experience, better than anything ever proposed in anyone's holy text.” 54 likes
“Instead of reality being passively recorded by the brain, it is actively constructed by it.” 29 likes
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