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A concise review of "Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain" by Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, delving into key insights surrounding the brain in just 7 minutes.

Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain – by Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett

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We’ve reviewed books about neurology before, and we always try to review books that bring something new/different. So, what makes this one stand out?

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, one of the world’s foremost neuroscientists, starts with an overview of how our unusual brain (definitely our species’ defining characteristic) came to be, and then devotes the rest of the book to mostly practical information.

She explains, in clear terms and without undue jargon, how the brain goes about such things as making constant predictions and useful assumptions about our environment, and reports these things to us as facts—which process is usually useful, and sometimes counterproductive.

We learn about how the apparently mystical trait of empathy works, in real flesh-and-blood terms, and why some kinds of empathy are more metabolically costly than others, and what that means for us all.

Unlike many such books, this one also looks at what is going on in the case of “different minds” that operate very dissimilarly to our own, and how this neurodiversity is important for our species.

Critically, she also looks at what else makes our brains stand out, the symphony of “5 Cs” that aren’t often found to the same extent all in the same species: creativity, communication, copying, cooperation, and compression. This latter being less obvious, but perhaps the most important; Dr. Feldman Barrett explains how we use this ability to layer summaries of our memories, perceptions, and assumptions, to allow us to think in abstractions—something that powers much of what we do that separates us from other animals.

Bottom line: if you’d like to learn more about that big wet organ between your ears, what it does for you, and how it goes about doing it, then this book gives a very practical foundation from which to build.

Click here to check out Seven and a Half Lessons about the Brain, and learn more about yours!

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