Seven and a Half Lessons about the Brain Book Summary - Seven and a Half Lessons about the Brain Book explained in key points
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Seven and a Half Lessons about the Brain summary

Lisa Feldman Barrett

Have Your Understanding of Consciousness, Emotions, and Memory Revolutionized

4.1 (29 ratings)
20 mins
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    Seven and a Half Lessons about the Brain
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    Don’t fall for the three-brain theory

    It’s an age-old idea that goes back to the days of Plato. That our minds are battlegrounds between three inner forces – basic instincts, emotions, and rational thought. The theory goes that the first force, basic instincts, is the oldest aspect of our brains. The so-called lizard brain. Then came emotions, and, over time, rational thought, which is seen as the higher-evolved force that can keep the unruly animals of instincts and emotions in check.

    But this idea of the brain being segmented like geological layers is outdated. Evolution doesn't stack layers upon the brain; it reshapes and reorganizes it. As our brains grew larger, their organization changed to manage more intricate bodies, signifying that complexity isn't about adding, but about reconfiguring.

    But why do vertebrate brains, developing in similar sequences, end up looking so distinct? The biological building blocks remain consistent across species; it's the timing that changes. Each stage of brain development lasts differently across species. For instance, the stage building neurons for the cerebral cortex is longer in humans compared to rodents or lizards. And it's not just about size either, but also about how these stages are orchestrated in developmental time.

    Although the triune brain theory – that we've evolved three distinct brains over time – has been enticing throughout history, it's more of a self-congratulatory tale. It suggests that by mastering rational thought, humans overcame their primal nature and now dominate Earth. But in reality, even a so-called “false-alarm” response in a high-threat environment could be seen as rational, as it prioritizes long-term survival.

    Ultimately, let’s debunk the concept of having three separate brains right here.  And let’s agree that we possess one dynamic, integrated brain instead. To truly grasp human nature, it's essential to revise our understanding of rationality, responsibility, and even our very essence as humans.

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    What is Seven and a Half Lessons about the Brain about?

    Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain (2020) is an engaging exploration of the human brain that debunks numerous misconceptions along the way. It explains what brains are actually for, how they develop, what makes them unique, and why they’re often one step ahead of everything you do.

    Who should read Seven and a Half Lessons about the Brain?

    • Neuroscience enthusiasts
    • People interested in the field of psychology
    • Anyone curious about human evolution

    About the Author

    Lisa Feldman Barrett is a distinguished neuroscientist and psychologist known for her groundbreaking research on human emotions. Her books include the critically acclaimed How Emotions Are Made and Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.

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