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Consciousness and the Brain Audiobook

Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts

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Publisher's Summary

How does the brain generate a conscious thought? And why does so much of our knowledge remain unconscious? Thanks to clever psychological and brain-imaging experiments, scientists are closer to cracking this mystery than ever before. In this lively book, Stanislas Dehaene describes the pioneering work his lab and the labs of other cognitive neuroscientists worldwide have accomplished in defining, testing, and explaining the brain events behind a conscious state. We can now pin down the neurons that fire when a person reports becoming aware of a piece of information and understand the crucial role unconscious computations play in how we make decisions. The emerging theory enables a test of consciousness in animals, babies, and those with severe brain injuries.A joyous exploration of the mind and its thrilling complexities, Consciousness and the Brain will excite anyone who is interested in cutting-edge science and technology and the vast philosophical, personal, and ethical implications of finally quantifying consciousness.

©2014 Stanislas Dehaene (P)2014 Tantor

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  • Tristan
    18/01/16
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    Story
    "I had no idea we knew this much."

    I mean really: they can now tell whether a "vegetative" person is partially-conscious or not by looking at brain scans. They can actually see four distinct signatures of consciousness. That's amazing.

    Scientists now understand how subliminal stimuli can "prime" the mind to think about certain things without registering in the conscious mind, right down to the nuts and bolts of it. I honestly didn't think science knew that yet.

    A credible explanation for what's actually going wrong in schizophrenic minds is presented. Not a hand-wavy "chemical imbalance," a physical mechanism, with evidence. Definitely wasn't expecting that.

    The idea that consciousness is a "global workspace" sheds light on the advantages of consciousness and why we evolved it in the first place, as well as its limitations. You will leave the book reflecting on the different aspects of your mind that are contributing to your conscious experience right now. Funny enough, most of your pre-frontal cortex is being told to shut up until its needed.

    If you're looking for a non-mystical, science-based update on what we know about consciousness right now, get this book. It was more than I hoped for.

    62 of 64 people found this review helpful
  • Jim
    EL CAJON, CA, United States
    27/10/14
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    Story
    "Great book for advanced readers"
    Would you listen to Consciousness and the Brain again? Why?

    Parts of it I did indeed listen to.


    What about David Drummond’s performance did you like?

    Competent, clear, with some odd pronunciations that could have been looked up in dictionaries.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The stories about people in weird states of consciousness being brought back to the aware world.


    Any additional comments?

    The author has definitely identified where in the brain the experience of consciousness takes place, and explains well why most of what our brain does is unconscious. His global workspace theory is well explained, too. His only big mistake is that he dislikes qualia. (These are the raw "feelings" of an experience, like trying to explain what "green" is, or a bat trying to explain his perceptions when his sonar lets him zero in on insects and avoid hazards.) But qualia are real, and his denigration of them near the end of the book is disappointing.

    52 of 56 people found this review helpful
  • D. Fyler
    charlotte, nc
    21/11/17
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    "Excellent Overview of recent developments in brain science"

    This book is a wonderful overview of recent developments in brain science namely the development and consciousness and how consciousness functions. He also spends some time talking about a disease of consciousness ie schizophrenia.

    The author does a great job of reviewing different experiments that led to an understanding of consciousness through its neuroanatomy and neuronal function of its various modules and feed back loops.

    My only complaint is that I think to fully appreciate this book the reader would need some basic background in neurology and neuroanatomy.

    For example, he Spends a lot of time talking about feedback loops, neurons in various structures within the brain that create consciousness. iAlthough he spends a brief amount of time talking about the locations and functions of various structures such as the parietal lobe, occipital lobe, basil ganglia, thalamus and anterior cingulate gyrus, His explanations are very brief. If you didn’t already have some knowledge of these structures I don’t believe his explanation would be sufficient to allow you to understand much of what he was talking about in terms of experiments and function. Otherwise this is a great book and I really enjoyed listening to it and I learned quite a bit.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Douglas
    Auburn, WA, United States
    02/07/14
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    Story
    "Good Stuff..."

    First, I guess I, unlike the other reviewer, did not find the narrator "cocky," nor could I imagine how that could influence the listening to a book on neurology... That aside, the book itself contains a lot of important, if basic, ideas about neurology and the current knowledge concerning human consciousness. It tends, perhaps, to be a bit on the computational side of things, but the theories presented here are pretty sound. (There is debate as to what extend the mind really works like a computer, and I am one who is more in the Jonathan Haidt camp, believing that the mind is more complex, and much more emotionally driven, than the computational model allows for--listen to a couple of books by Haidt after finishing with this one.) I would recommend this as a beginning or even as an intermediate book on consciousness and neurology. Michael Gazziniga or Rhawn Joseph (the latter not yet in audiobook) might be better advanced studies in this subject.

    44 of 48 people found this review helpful
  • Renan Cakirerk
    24/01/15
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    "Phenomenal"

    I simply cannot believe that we're all living without knowing the information presented in this book. It's a life changing experience that will make you see things very differently.

    I struggled to finish this book because the author is simply bursting knowledge in each phrase. The information is so dense that you will forget what you've just learned 5 minutes ago.

    The narrator is robotic and has a disturbing fake tone that sounds like a news guy from the 1930s.

    I will read this book again and again.

    21 of 23 people found this review helpful
  • JMC
    Longboat Key, FL
    21/05/17
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    "The BEST on Consciousness that you will find"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    100% positive recommendation.

    This is a thorough, top-to-bottom discussion of consciousness, the sub-conscious, the self-conscious and the underlying causal mechanisms of our brain. Yes, some of the examples (of the component mechanisms of sight, or brain injury impact to conscious awareness) are now familiar in the literature, but Dehaene weaves them into his narrative in ways that support the development of his argument for the neural workspace and long-distance inter-regional feedback. Fascinating material! Tempered with due consideration as to the limits of current neurological, physiological and medical knowledge.

    His final chapter, where he reflects on some of the wider implications of the preceding chapters, puts to shame most contemporary philosophical discussions of mind, brain and consciousness. It is surely one of the best discussions on these topics that you will find.


    What other book might you compare Consciousness and the Brain to and why?

    Eagleman's work comes close.


    What does David Drummond bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Excellent presentation


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Yes. Amazement, both at the depth of Dehaene's knowledge and the intricacy of how our brains work.


    Any additional comments?

    I canot find other Dehaene audiobooks... but have now ordered hard copies of his other works. In fact, I have also ordered a hard copy of this audiobook.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • omar n.
    01/09/17
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    "Stick with it"

    Excellent, just stick with it and he will get there in the end. I'm glad I didn't fade it half way through.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • David Dietrich
    23/06/16
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    "excellent complement to "On Intelligence""

    I had already listened to On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins, so I was worried that Consciousness and the Brain would be redundant. It was not. While the former carefully works from the physical structures of the brain up, the latter works its way from the experience of consiousness down. Consciousness and the Brain remains dense and engaging throughout. Far from being dry or encyclopedic, it kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end, wondering what new discovery or experiment lay around the next bend!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • rami
    08/04/15
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    "A "Maze""

    I could hardly put the book down until done with the last chapter. Now I realize there is a lot more I don't know. I was curious when I started reading this book, now I am all curiosity..
    Is curiosity part of the brain doing?!
    Excellent book!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • jm
    16/06/16
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    "Excellent"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I have read many books on this and related subjects and found this to be one of the very best. I had thought there wasn't much more for me to learn as a layman regarding our current understanding of neuroscience and consciousness, but this crystalized what I had already learned along with a lot I did not know in an incredibly illuminating way. I had read Gerald Edelman's work and while I could tell much of what he was saying was very insightful, I found his scholarly books (Neural Darwinism, The Remembered Present) were ultimately too difficult for me and I know his theories and writing are often criticized. Dehaene's references to Edelman were much appreciated and helped me place his ideas in context of the current science. Very clear and well-laid out. At the start I thought the reader might be a little deliberate but once I got into the rhythm I thought it was perfect. All stars.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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