The Biological Mind Book Summary - The Biological Mind Book explained in key points
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The Biological Mind summary

Alan Jasanoff

How Brain, Body, and Environment Collaborate to Make Us Who We Are

4.4 (155 ratings)
28 mins

Brief summary

The Biological Mind by Alan Jasanoff argues that the brain and the body work together to create our experience of the world. He explores how this unity can help us better understand mental health and offers tools for improving brain function.

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    The Biological Mind
    Summary of 10 key ideas

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    Most of us see the brain as a transcendental object rather than a biological organ.

    The mammalian brain is one of the most complex structures in nature. Even a cow’s brain consists of billions of cells and trillions of neurological connections. It truly is a wonder. Yet, the mammalian brain is far more than just a complex – it’s also a tasty snack. 

    Yes, that’s right, the brain is edible. Full of fat and vitamins, it’s pretty nutritious. Given the right recipe, it can be whipped up into a tasty soup or stew. Okay, if you’re like most people, brain isn’t usually on the menu. But this hasn’t always been the case. Archeological evidence from Kenya suggests early humans made animal brains a regular snack. It’s only relatively recently that its popularity as a food has declined, especially in the West.

    So, why the aversion to eating what could easily be a hearty and healthy delicacy? It’s because of what the author calls the “cerebral mystique.” We see brains as more than just an organ. We see them as the seat of the mind, and the source of the soul.

    The key message here is: Most of us see the brain as a transcendental object rather than a biological organ.

    Our modern fixation on the special nature of the brain started in the early 1800s when German scientist Franz Gall popularized phrenology. Phrenology claimed a person’s intelligence and character could be mapped onto the size and shape of their brain. 

    Despite being largely false, phrenology made brains a hot topic. Famous figures from Abraham Lincoln to Walt Whitman underwent phrenological exams. Universities amassed extensive collections of brains in jars. Entire colonial projects were justified based on flimsy comparisons between European and African skull shapes.

    Of course, few believe in phrenology now. These days, our scientific understanding of the brain is much more nuanced. Decades of research show that the brain is a complex organ and its functioning is impacted by innumerable variables. Still, the “cerebral mystique” remains strong. 

    Popular culture still depicts the brain as mysterious, elusive, almost supernatural. Just think of the pictures used to accompany magazine articles about anything neuroscience related: the brain is shown as ethereal, floating alone, bathed in mystical blue or green light. 

    The next blinks will deconstruct this illusion. We’ll start with the widespread belief that the brain and body are somehow separate entities.

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    What is The Biological Mind about?

    The Biological Mind (2018) debunks the “cerebral mystique,” the commonly held belief that our brains are somehow completely independent from our bodies and our surroundings. Using the latest insights from neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy, this approachable primer demonstrates that what you see as yourself is much more complex than you thought.

    The Biological Mind Review

    The Biological Mind (2018) explores the fascinating intricacies of the human brain and why we behave the way we do. Here's why this book is a great read:

    • It offers insightful explanations of complex neuroscience concepts, making it accessible to readers from all backgrounds.
    • With a wealth of research and studies, the book provides a comprehensive understanding of how our biology shapes our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
    • The author challenges conventional wisdom and offers thought-provoking theories on consciousness, perception, and free will, keeping readers captivated from start to finish.

    Who should read The Biological Mind?

    • Science buffs looking to keep up with the latest research
    • Armchair philosophers curious about questions of consciousness
    • Psychonauts seeking to understand their own minds

    About the Author

    Dr. Alan Jasanoff is a professor of Biological Engineering, Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His lab at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research produces some of the world’s most cutting-edge research into neuroscience and brain functioning.

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    The Biological Mind FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Biological Mind?

    The main message of The Biological Mind is that the brain is the foundation of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

    How long does it take to read The Biological Mind?

    The reading time for The Biological Mind varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Biological Mind a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Biological Mind is worth reading for anyone interested in understanding the complex workings of the brain. It offers fascinating insights into our biological nature.

    Who is the author of The Biological Mind?

    The author of The Biological Mind is Alan Jasanoff.

    What to read after The Biological Mind?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Biological Mind, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Activate Your Brain by Scott G. Halford
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    • Brain Rules by John Medina
    • 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do by Amy Morin
    • Hidden Potential by Adam Grant
    • The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge
    • The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene
    • Power And Prediction by Ajay Agrawal
    • Bringing Out the Best in People by Aubrey C. Daniels
    • Spiritual Activator by Oliver Niño