Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain (Hardcover)
From the author of How Emotions Are Made, a myth-busting primer on the brain in the tradition of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.
Have you ever wondered why you have a brain? Let renowned neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett demystify that big gray blob between your ears. In seven short essays (plus a bite-sized story about how brains evolved), this slim, entertaining, and accessible collection reveals mind-expanding lessons from the front lines of neuroscience research. You’ll learn where brains came from, how they’re structured (and why it matters), and how yours works in tandem with other brains to create everything you experience. Along the way, you’ll also learn to dismiss popular myths such as the idea of a “lizard brain” and the alleged battle between thoughts and emotions, or even between nature and nurture, to determine your behavior.
Sure to intrigue casual readers and scientific veterans alike, Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain is full of surprises, humor, and important implications for human nature—a gift of a book that you will want to savor again and again.
About the Author
LISA FELDMAN BARRETT, PhD, is a University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, with appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in psychiatry and radiology. She received a National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award for her groundbreaking research on emotion in the brain, and is an elected member of the Royal Society of Canada. She lives outside Boston.
"This short, concise, readable, thought-challenging view of the complex brain will pique the reader and puzzle the mind wondering what
reality really is."—San Francisco Book Review
"A deeply researched, compulsively readable, subtly philosophical tour through the human brain…. In just a few pages, Barrett dispels myths so deeply entrenched that many of us assumed they were indisputable scientific fact (goodbye, lizard brain!) And she does all of this with the effortless concision of a poet, not a word wasted…. [Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain] deserves to be read and re-read and then, just as important, to be thought about deeply."—Dan Pink
"Highly recommended, this smart pithy primer on the brain is fascinating.”—Michael Pollan, via Twitter
“An excellent education in brain science…[Feldman Barrett] deftly employs metaphor and anecdote to deliver an insightful overview of her favorite subject… so short and sweet that most readers will continue to the 35-page appendix, in which the author delves more deeply, but with no less clarity, into topics ranging from teleology to the Myers-Briggs personality test to ‘Plato’s writings about the human psyche.’ Outstanding popular science.”—Kirkus, STARRED
"What about that 'three-pound blob between your ears'? In seven essays about the brain and a half-size one about its evolution…Barrett has crafted a well-written tribute to this wow-inducing organ."—Booklist
“[A] must-read science book. Neuroscientist Barrett takes readers on a journey from the first earthly creatures, through the musings of ancient philosophers, and to present-day neuroscience.”—Discover Magazine
“Beautiful writing and sublime insights that will blow your mind like a string of firecrackers. If you want a rundown of the brain and its magic, start here.”—David Eagleman, Stanford neuroscientist, New York Times bestselling author of Incognito and Livewired
"Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain reads like a novel—one whose main character is all of us. In fresh and lively prose, Barrett provides deep insight into what brains are for, how they operate and are programmed, how they create the ‘reality’ we experience, and how they ultimately produce our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Read this book! It will make you smarter about yourself, and your species."—Leonard Mlodinow, New York Times bestselling author of The Drunkard’s Walk, Subliminal, and Elastic
“A radical and provocative look at a range of pervasive misconceptions, emerging discoveries, and enticing mysteries regarding our very nature as individuals and intertwined social beings. By illuminating our unimaginably complex, constantly changing brain/body networks, Barrett gets to the heart of the new understanding of who and what we are as creatures, and how much latitude and agency we have."—Jon Kabat-Zinn, Founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), author of Full Catastrophe Living and The Healing Power of Mindfulness
"Lisa Feldman Barrett is a pioneer in neuroscience and one of today’s most provocative thinkers about the mind. Get ready to have yours blown."—Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take
"A smart and delightfully breezy look at the things most of us think we know about the brain, but don't."—Daniel Gilbert, New York Times bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness
"Barrett writes with a scientist's eye and a storyteller's heart. A must-read for anyone who has a brain."—Helen S. Mayberg, Professor of Neurology, Neurosurgery, Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
"One of the best short, whirlwind introductions to the human brain I've ever read….[Feldman Barrett] is one of the most brilliant and bold thinkers and scientists I've ever had the pleasure of speaking with."
– Lex Fridman, Lex Fridman Podcast