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Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  3,278 ratings  ·  434 reviews
Seven short essays (plus a bite-sized story about how brains evolved) reveal lessons from neuroscience research. Questions like these in any order:
1 where brains came from
2 how they’re structured (and why it matters)
3 how yours works in tandem with other brains to create everything you experience
4 dismiss popular myths
5 idea of a “lizard brain”
6 the alleged battle between
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published November 17th 2020 by Mariner Books (first published 2020)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  3,278 ratings  ·  434 reviews

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Petra X is emotionally in a 14.5 year old state
The book had some interesting things to say, but nothing that I hadn't read particularly unique, one passage did intrigue me though because it is so true. It is a collective agreement on how the world works, with disagreements and totally other visions too. But even those of us who come from societies that do not see the world as we do, say Amazonian tribes, or pre-colonization Maoris, can quite easily imagine this world and as with the Maoris, adapt to it and still see the world in their way. I ...more
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.

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
Alice Lippart
Really interesting!
Rita P
Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Camelia Rose
Jan 06, 2022 rated it really liked it
Seven and Half Lessons About The Brain is a short and delightful book on the new (and not so new) findings of human brain research. Sorry to disappoint you, but your brain (and mine) is not built for thinking. According to Professor Lisa Feldman Barrett, its purpose is to budget your energy and its ultimate goal is to make sure you survive long enough to pass on your genes. The idea of the triune brain is outdated. So, you don’t have a lizard brain, a mammalian brain and a human brain, just one ...more
Jan 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Why this book. Selected by a reading/discussion book I’m in, as a good follow up to Descarte’s Error. One member of our group pointed us to a Lisa Feldman Barrett Ted Talk which impressed us all, then an interview with her on youtube, and as a group, we decided then to read this book. Good idea.

Summary in 3 sentences; Lisa Feldman Barrett begins with a brief explanation of the evolution of the brain from a mini-worm amphioxus 550 million years ago, through many evolutionary iterations, until on
Peter Tillman
A really good popular-neurology book, a topic I usually struggle with. Dr. Barrett writes with unusual clarity, paring down to the essentials for us to understand the human brain. Here's the short review to start with, at Kirkus: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-re...
From my sparse notes:
Tuning and pruning: a vital part of the development of young brains. Tuning is what happens to frequently-used neurons: they are better-connected and more efficient than seldom-used ones. There is a "use it o
This book is probably too simplistic for those science-y people, but I am not one of them, so I gave it ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐. Informative, brilliant and entertaining. Also witty.
Muhip Tezcan
Nov 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bilim, neuroscience
This can be a great start for anyone interested in the latest paradigms in neuroscience. Even though the ideas presented here are not intuitive at all, 7.5 Lessons About The Brain is easy to read and quite entertaining.

Lisa Feldman Barrett does well in explaining her current views about the brain, backed by neuroscience and shared by many others in the field (though not all). I would recommend reading the appendix as well, since it talks more about what ideas are commonly accepted vs which are m
Feb 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent quick read on the current state of knowledge of our amazing brain, by psychology professor and emotions researcher Lisa Feldman Barrett.

The foundation of this set of essays is Barrett's belief that our brain evolved to do one primary thing: "budget" the resources of our body. Its primary mission is to feed us when we're hungry and thirsty, keep us out of danger and otherwise enhance our survival. All of the brain's other impressive capabilities are fringe benefits, if you wi
Aug 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Really enjoyed this quick little book, which looks at the recent information on brains and also clears up some old (and popular) metaphors and myths. This latest learning is presented with clarity and humor - both welcome!

This book was said to be inspired by Rovelli's Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, which I really liked. Some reviewers criticized it for being too brief, for not having enough information. Did they read the appendix or visit the authors website with all the supporting info? I'm th
Katie Bruell
Dec 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 15, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I may be biased because of an innate curiosity, and I’m definitely in a state of high arousal after checking the news about the war in Ukraine (March 15th 2022); a lot higher than in the previous few years of the pandemic which were not exactly a walk in the park either, but I need to write this down in bold: it is your civic duty to attend to this book and go through these 20 minute lessons one by one. They are short, the text is witty and full of examples, and there is a very important point b ...more
Matthew Jordan
Jun 14, 2021 rated it liked it
I gotta stop reading these 3-hour audiobooks. They're short, and I like short books, but this one (along with "7 Lessons About Physics", which I also read, and which was Lisa Feldman Barrett's inspiration) was too short to be able to do anything interesting. A lot of the sentences were like "the evidence says that previous generations' thoughts about the brain are false" without ever saying what the evidence is.

I guess the best purpose for a book like this is that it serves as an encapsulation o
May 16, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-general
I was expecting to learn something new, but didn't. This book is superficial, overly simplistic, tedious, and is peppered with the author's political opinions. My brain kept trying to skim over huge swaths of this book. ...more
The  Conch
Nov 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bhejalogy
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
I admit to having a chip on my shoulder about the tone and unintended consequences of both Barrett's previous work and she herself as its mouthpiece after reading her last book on emotions and hearing her on an Invisibilia podcast about PTSD.

That emotions are culturally defined but coded singularly within each individual's brain is fascinating - however, the implication that individuals alone are and should be responsible and accountable for the long-term health implications of their emotional e
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.
Jan 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Quite an interesting read on the science behind our brains. She also debunks some of the more popular “myths” of recent history. Would recommend overall - short read and interesting too!
Jun 10, 2021 rated it liked it
A short, quick read on the evolution, development, and workings of the brain in society. Barrett describes a concept she calls “body budgeting” where in activities and experiences keep our body in order in terms of health and energy or vice versa activities like hearing constant criticism or being continually exposed to a toxic environment can cause our body to fall out of sync.

Barrett also describes how how minds operate to enable creative thought, cooperation, and communication. If you enj
William Schram
Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain is a short book, but it is packed with information, nonetheless. Lisa Feldman Barrett explains misconceptions about the brain in eight short essays.

The first misconception is that the brain is for thinking. Barrett argues that the brain is a device the body uses to allocate resources efficiently.

Dr. Barrett tackles the idea of the triune brain in the second essay. The misconception arose from the tools we used to analyze brain structures. According to wh
Erik Brickarp
Jun 11, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
I love this book!

It explains how the brain works in a way that's easy to understand but yet way more detailed than any other book I've come across! I can't judge the validity of the content (Lisa's reputation within the scientific world seems extremely high though from my research) but it at least makes sense; not just in explaining how the brain works but also in why our brain would evolve this way.

It has vastly changed how I think especially about other people's way of reasoning in a way that'
Oct 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A quick read. On the surface you’d think that it just tackles facts and trivia about the brain, but this book also teaches you to be a better human being.
Mar 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I loved this! Very short, but fascinating, witty, and mind-expanding. Easy-to-follow explanations of some complex ideas, in particular why your brain does not work the way you (and popular media) probably think it does. Highly recommended to basically everyone (and brain) in the world.
Luca Smans
Jun 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
So much wisdom in this short book!
Every lessons deepened my understanding about the organ that lives inside our skull, controlling our every action, our every thought, all parts of our bodies and our connection to the outside world, the present, past and future…
Must read for everyone who has a brain and who is able to read words:)
Mark Valentine
Jun 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Having read and seen how Barrett's book, How Emotions Are Made, changed my life for the better when I saw her latest release, I knew I had to read it. In fact, I recommend reading this handy guide first and then move on to her rich, full study on Emotions.

Her writing, her use of analogies, her precise, clear writing style, and the fact that she has access to the latest pivotal research on neuroscience and cognitive studies make her essential to read.

She writes about the difference between brai
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
Raul Mazilu
Jun 18, 2022 rated it it was amazing
This book was highly recommended on Huberman's Lab podcast -- and for good reason!

Some takeaways:
1/ Your brain's most important job is not thinking. Rather, it's making non-stop predictions of what you'll do next, what energy is needed for those actions, and how to budget for these energy needs.

2/ The triune brain theory (lizard / limbic / neocortex) has been disproven since the 90s. Good behaviour isn't the result of your neocortex winning an epic battle against the emotionally unhinged limbic
Ashlee Bree
Jul 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: science, arcs, nonfiction
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
Aaron Mikulsky
Nov 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
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