From bestselling author Stephen Pinker, "How the Mind Works" draws on the latest scientific research to present a blueprint for the most sophisticated machine on Earth: the human brain. Why do we laugh? What makes memories fade? Why do fools fall in love? Why do people believe in ghosts? How do we recognize a face? "How the Mind Works" explores ...
From bestselling author Stephen Pinker, "How the Mind Works" draws on the latest scientific research to present a blueprint for the most sophisticated machine on Earth: the human brain. Why do we laugh? What makes memories fade? Why do fools fall in love? Why do people believe in ghosts? How do we recognize a face? "How the Mind Works" explores every aspect of our brains, showing that our minds are not a mystery, but rather a system designed by natural selection over years of human evolution. Whether looking at optical illusions or religion, Mozart or films, Stephen Pinker offers us a new way of understating ourselves. "Witty, lucid and ultimately enthralling". ("Observer"). "Powerful and gripping...To have read it is to have consulted a first draft of the structural plan of the human psyche ...a glittering tour de force". ("Spectator"). "Witty popular science that you enjoy reading fro the writing as well as for the science...He is a top-rate writer, and deserves the superlatives that are lavished on him". ("The New York Times"). "Pinker has a remarkable capacity to explain difficult ideas and he writes with the comic verve of Martin Amis or Woody Allen..." How the Mind Works" will change the way your mind works". ("The Times"). Steven Pinker is a best-selling author and Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for cognitive Neuroscience at MIT. Pinker has been awarded research prizes from the National Academy of Sciences and the American Psychological Association, graduate and undergraduate teaching prizes from MIT, and book prizes from the American Psychological Association, the Linguistics Society of America and the "Los Angeles Times". He is the author of "How the Mind Works", "The Blank Slate", "The Better Angels of Our Nature", and "The Language Instinct".
Publishers Weekly, 1997-07-28 In The Language Instinct (1994), Pinker demonstrated that the mind is structured for the learning and producing of language. Here, the director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at MIT widens his scope, explaining the structure of the mind in much of its emotional, perceptive, sexual, problem-solving splendor. He masterfully consolidates decades of research into an integrated "computational theory of mind" that encompasses the range of activities we ascribe to our "mental organ." The theory posits modules (or automatically triggered "agents") made of massively interconnected neurons firing in patterned sequences. These agents act as information processors that break down complicated tasks as diverse as detecting visual edges, finding footholds and feeling disgust. A new twist is the proposition that this system, like language, developed via natural selection to solve specific problems confronting our hunting-and-gathering ancestors. The discussion is thus split between describing how the computation of specific tasks might actually work, as the chapter on vision does superbly, and less computationally demonstrable and thus less concrete discussions of how emotions are adapted to group relations, or of the sort of data one considers when choosing a mate. Though clearly written, the book will be mistaken by few for high literature ("so far this might not sound much better than the barf-up-your-baby theory"), and, while Pinker deliberately leaves many fundamental questions about the mind largely unanswered (such as the origins of sentience and the sense of self), he has a gift for making enormously complicated mechanisms-and human foibles-accessible, and he offers a truly comprehensive vision of how number crunching allowed the seeing, hearing and feeling human parts to evolve within a wondrous, modularized and goal-directed whole. Author tour. (Oct.)
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