Book Review: The Brain: The Story of You by David Eagleman

A neuroscientist’s guide to your brain, asking questions about who you are, how you work, what is reality, is there a free will or not (automata or in control?), me and others, and so on. All the basics about psychology, neuroscience, and adding into the mix some social psychology. This is a book about fundamentals, and if you are already familiar with them, then you might want to skip this one. However, it is not a bad book, quite the opposite. Well written, engaging, amusing, and thorough and informative. I enjoyed listening to this book, I actually did it in one day. Don’t ask why. (My weird brain.)

What is best about the book is David Eagleman is honest, he doesn’t try to say that all is defined that we know exactly how our brains work. He accepts that there is a lot we don’t understand. For example, the question of free will. He never says one or the other, but he says that all of our brains are different. That our genes and environment both play a role in who we become. And I like that. It acknowledges that we are not separate from the environment and random occurrences we come across, but still, there is this genetic makeup that impacts us. Like with me, the fact that I have dyslexia (and it runs in my family.) It affects my reading and writing abilities both in good and bad, but also to the way I view the world. I can let it dominate me and stop it pursuing my dreams and wishes or work with it and around it. Lately, there has been a trend going on that denies we have a saying to the matter of what is going on and how we choose to act. For me, that feels like a pessimistic view of our brains. Their plasticity makes them able to adapt, and they change through our actions. For example, they have shown meditation to alter the brain’s construction.

But back to the book, Eagleman writes, that part of us runs in automatic pilot. Many of those are learned throughout childhood, like walking and eye-hand coordination. Then they became automatic features until something might alter their course like going blind or the other way around as he gives an example. But then most likely, (he doesn’t say definitely,) we have some saying on the bigger decisions we make. And I take that most likely. I have an aversion when people say that they cannot help the way they are and how they react. All I want to ask is, really? It feels like they don’t want to try. But again, this all is beside the point. I enjoyed the book, and a lot. Most of it was something I already knew, but going back to basics isn’t a bad thing at all. Then you can at least check if the foundation you have built is sound or not.

Thank you for reading! Have a brainy day!

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