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Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain

Pdf Book Name: Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain
Author: Lisa Feldman Barrett
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
ISBN-10, 13: 2020023431,9780358157120,0358157145, 978-0358157144
Year: 2020
Pages: 192 pages
Language: English
File size: 9 MB
File format: PDF,EPUB

Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain Pdf Book Description:

Once upon a time, the Earth was ruled by creatures without brains. This is not a political statement, just a biological one. One of these creatures was the amphioxus. If you ever glimpsed one, you’d probably mistake it for a little worm until you noticed the gill like slits on either side of its body. Amphioxi populated the oceans about 550 million years ago, and they lived simple lives. An amphioxus could propel itself through the water, thanks to a very basic system for movement. It also had an exceedingly simple way of eating: it planted itself in the seafloor, like a blade of grass, and consumed any minuscule creatures that happened to drift into its mouth. Taste and smell were of no concern because an amphioxus didn’t have senses like yours. It had no eyes, just a few cells to detect changes in light, and it could not hear. Its meager nervous system included a teeny clump of cells that was not quite a brain. An amphioxus, you could say, was a stomach on a stick. Amphioxi are your distant cousins, and they’re still around today. When you look at a modern amphioxus, you behold a creature very similar to your own ancient, tiny ancestor who roamed the same seas.

Can you picture a little wormy creature, two inches long, swaying in the current of a prehistoric ocean, and glimpse humanity’s evolutionary journey? It’s difficult. You have so much that the ancient amphioxus did not: a few hundred bones, an abundance of internal organs, some limbs, a nose, a charming smile, and, most important, a brain. The amphioxus didn’t need a brain. Its cells for sensing were connected to its cells for moving, so it reacted to its watery world without much processing. You, however, have an intricate, powerful brain that gives rise to mental events as diverse as thoughts, emotions, memories, and dreams an internal life that shapes so much of what is distinctive and meaningful about your existence. Why did a brain like yours evolve? The obvious answer is to think. It’s common to assume that brains evolved in some kind of upward progression say, from lower animals to higher animals, with the most sophisticated, thinking brain of all, the human brain, at the top. After all, thinking is the human superpower, right? Well, the obvious answer turns out to be wrong. In fact, the idea that our brains evolved for thinking has been the source of many profound misconceptions about human nature. Once you give up that cherished belief, you will have taken the first step toward understanding how your brain actually works and what its most important job is and, ultimately, what kind of creature you really are.

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