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About David Eagleman's Book “Incognito. The Secret Life Of The Brain”- Reviews, Self-development
About David Eagleman's Book “Incognito. The Secret Life Of The Brain”- Reviews, Self-development

Video: About David Eagleman's Book “Incognito. The Secret Life Of The Brain”- Reviews, Self-development

Video: About David Eagleman's Book “Incognito. The Secret Life Of The Brain”- Reviews, Self-development
Video: Book Review - Incognito: The Secret Lives Of The Brain 2023, December

Mann, Ivanov and Ferber, 2019

As long as we imagine ourselves as the masters of life, an organ that forms hopes, plans, fears, desires, instincts lives and acts right inside and apart from us. He constructs the behavior and physical condition of the whole organism. This is the command center that directs all work, collecting data through small portals in an armored skull bunker

Tickling the brain below the level of awareness


The brain can be subtly manipulated to change behavior. Imagine that I ask you to read a few pages of text, and then fill in the missing spaces in a few special terms, such as def _ through _. You’re more likely to write a term you’ve seen recently, such as “gender determination,” rather than “visitor survey,” regardless of whether you have an explicit memory of seeing those words recently.

Likewise, if I ask you to fill in the blanks in a word, for example, p_ds_z_at_alny, you can handle it better if you have seen the word before, whether you remember it or not. The words on the list affect and change a specific part of your brain. This effect is called priming (set fixing or precedence effect).

Priming emphasizes that implicit (unconscious) memory systems are fundamentally different from explicit memory systems: even if the second has lost data, the first has a lock on them. The division between these systems is again illustrated by patients with anterograde amnesia resulting from brain damage. Patients with severe amnesia can be trained to fill in words with spaces even though they have no conscious recollection of the original text.

The effects of previous exposure can be long-term and outside the scope of temporary brain tickling. If you've seen a picture of someone's face before, you'll find it more attractive the next time. This is true even if you don’t remember seeing the face before.

This phenomenon is called the effect of familiarity with the object and illustrates the fact that implicit memory affects your interpretation of the world: what things you like, what you don't like, and so on.

It should come as no surprise to you that the familiarity effect is part of the magic behind product branding, celebrity creation, and political campaigning: the more often a product or face is shown, the more preference it is given. The familiarity effect is the reason why public people are not always upset by negative press coverage. Celebrities often remark, "The only bad publicity is lack of publicity" or "I don't care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name correctly."

Another manifestation of implicit memory in the real world is known as the illusory truth effect: you are more likely to believe a statement is true if you have heard it before, regardless of whether it is actually true or not. In one study, subjects evaluated the fairness of plausible sentences every two weeks.

During testing, experimenters added several repeated sentences (both true and false) without warning. As a result, a clear relationship was found: if subjects heard a statement in previous weeks, they were more likely to believe it was true, even if they swore that they had never encountered it before.

This happens even when the experimenter tells the participants that the sentences they will hear are false: the mere exposure of the idea is enough to increase its believability on later contact. The illusory truth effect demonstrates the potential danger to those people who are influenced by the same religious directives or political slogans.

A simple pairing of concepts may be enough to form an unconscious association and, as a result, a feeling that there is something familiar and true in this combination. This is the basis of any advertisements we see where products are combined with attractive and fun people.

The same effect was at the heart of the move made by George W. Bush's team during the 2000 election campaign against Al Gore. In Bush's $ 2.5 million television commercial, the word RATS ("rats") flashed on screen in conjunction with the phrase "Plan of Horus". In the next moment it became clear that it was the end of the word BUREAUCRATS ("bureaucrats"), but it is obvious what the creators of this ad wanted, and they hoped that the effect would be remembered.


Imagine holding your fingers over ten multi-colored buttons, each corresponding to a colored light bulb. Your task is simple: every time one of the lights flashes, press the corresponding button as fast as possible.

If the sequence of flashes is random, your reaction times are generally the same; however, the researchers found that if there is a hidden pattern in the flashes, the reaction rate increases: this indicates that the person has caught the sequence and can predict which light will turn on next. If at the same time an unexpected lamp comes on, the reaction time increases again.

The amazing thing about this experience is that the acceleration of the reaction happens even if you are completely unaware of the sequence; there is no need to involve the conscious mind for this type of learning. The ability to name what will happen is limited or non-existent. And perhaps you have a flair.

Sometimes such things can be realized, but not always. In 1997, neuroscientist Anthony Bechara and colleagues laid out four decks of cards in front of subjects and asked them to choose one card at a time. Each card meant a certain win or loss of money. Over time, the participants began to realize that each deck had its own characteristics: two decks were "good", that is, the subjects ended up making money, and the other two were "bad", and they ultimately suffered losses.

While the subjects were pondering which deck to draw a card from, the researchers stopped them and asked them to say which decks were "good" and which were "bad." Scientists found that participants typically needed to draw a card about twenty-five times to decide on the issue. Not very interesting, right? But this is for now.

In addition, the researchers measured the conductance of skin patches, which reflects the activity of the autonomic ("fight or flight") nervous system. Something startling was discovered: the autonomic nervous system was collecting statistics from maps long before consciousness did it. That is, when the subjects were drawn to the "bad" decks, there was a anticipatory surge in activity - in fact, a warning sign. The splash was registered when drawing out about the thirteenth card.

Thus, some part of the brain of the subjects perceived the expected result long before the conscious mind could reach this information. And this information was provided in the form of intuition: the subjects of the study started choosing “good” decks before they could tell why. This means that knowledge of the situation is not required to make profitable decisions.

Moreover, it turns out that people need a gut feeling: without it, decisions will never be good enough. Antonio Damasio and his colleagues conducted the described experiment with patients who suffered damage to the front of the brain - the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, an area involved in decision making.

They found that they could not generate a galvanic skin reflex warning signal: their brains simply did not perceive the statistics and did not give advice. Incredibly, even after realizing that the decks were “bad,” these patients continued to make the wrong choice. In other words, flair was essential to make the right choice.

Damasio suggested that sensation as a result of the physical condition of the body influences behavior and decision-making. The state of the body is associated with events around. When something bad happens, the brain uses the entire body to register this sensation (pulse, intestinal contraction, muscle weakness, and so on), and the sensation begins to be associated with a specific event.

The next time the event occurs, the brain essentially triggers a simulation, reliving the corresponding physical sensations. Subsequently, these sensations serve to guide the decision-making or at least to influence them. If the sensations are unpleasant, they do not recommend action; otherwise, they prompt action.

From this point of view, the physical condition of the organism offers a guess that drives behavior. Such guesses turn out to be correct more often than by pure chance, mainly because your unconscious brain picks up the essence first, and your consciousness acts belatedly.

In fact, conscious systems can be completely destroyed without affecting subconscious systems. For example, people with a disorder such as prosopagnosia are unable to distinguish between faces. They rely entirely on other distinguishing characteristics, such as their hairstyle, gait, and voice, to recognize people they know.

Reflecting on this condition, Daniel Tranel and Antonio Damasio came up with an interesting idea: Can measuring the cutaneous conductance of such patients reveal familiar faces? It turned out to be so. Although the person insists that they are unable to recognize faces, part of their brain distinguishes familiar faces from unfamiliar ones.

If you cannot extract the answer from the unconscious brain, then how do you access its knowledge? Sometimes you just need to resort to your gut. So the next time your friend complains that he can't choose between two options, suggest the simplest way to solve the problem: toss a coin, having previously determined which option corresponds to heads and which to tails.

An important part of the process is assessing your inner voice after landing. If there is a subtle sense of relief from what the coin suggested, then this is the right choice. If there is a thought about the ridiculousness of the decision made with the help of a coin, then the opposite option must be chosen.