5 Best Books About The Brain Update 05/2022

Books About The Brain

We have a brain that is seven times bigger than it should be for our body size, and it takes a quarter of our daily energy intake to run. By your own count, it has 86 billion neurons, and has the best cognitive abilities. Then, you say that the human brain isn’t special, and that we shouldn’t think of it as being at the top of evolution or the top of a tree of evolution. Can you tell me why?

Does that make sense? I mean that it isn’t really out of the ordinary. To be unique, it would have to be built in a way that doesn’t follow the rules that apply to any other brain. This would be very unusual, because we know that there is a basic biological background from which life doesn’t stray too far, because rules are passed down. When I first started learning about comparative neuroanatomy, there seemed to be this consensus that the human brain was an exception in a lot of different ways. For example, it was thought that the human brain was bigger than the rest of the body, and had a different genetic makeup, and had a different metabolism, and had genes that made the brain’s synapses.

We didn’t know how many neurons or cells made up different brains, let alone the human brain, so we couldn’t really compare the human brain to other brains. That was the work that I did when I first started out. It also led to the realization that the human brain is not unique, in the sense that it is not different from other primate brains in the way that it is unique. It does happen that because we’re primates, we can fit a lot of neurons into this small brain, and because our ancestors came up with a clever way to process food before putting it in our mouths, that is, cooking, with or without fire, we were able to gather the most neurons in the cerebral cortex of any species. When we compare our brain to other great apes, it looks bigger than it should be. Compared to other types of primates, great apes have too small brains because they use a lot of energy to keep their bodies warm and their brains work. They can’t afford to buy both at the same time, so they have to choose one. If we were a generic primate, our brain would be the same size as it would be for a non-great ape primate. Our number of neurons in the cerebral cortex, which is the largest and can’t be found in any other species, makes us unique. We aren’t unique in terms of being outliers.


by Sebastian Seung


There is a book on your list called Connectome by Sebastian Seung. This book talks about one of the most important things in neuroscience, which is that one day we might be able to make a complete wiring diagram or map of how connections are made in the brain. What can we learn from this?

One of the things that people say about the human brain is that it is the most complicated thing in the world because the number of synapses [connections between neurons] in the cerebral cortex is thought to be the most. We still don’t know how many synapses each species has, but it takes a lot of information to describe and set up its synaptic connectivity, and you can’t find that much information in the genome alone. There aren’t enough genes, even with a combinatorial code, to list all the possible connections between neurons in the brain’s brain cortex. As soon as the basic biological instructions in your genome are set up, the connections in your brain are set up. After that, the connections change through a self-organized process. How you use your brain tells you right away what your brain looks like.

The Feeling of What Happens

by Antonio Damasio

That is what makes Damasio so great. He takes the time to come up with a useful definition of what consciousness is. Because everyone knows, everyone has a sense of self, so why bother? In science, I think Damasio is right when he says that the first thing you need to do is figure out what the question is. First, you have to figure out what consciousness is. Then, you can talk about it. Damasio actually gives words to what he thinks is a nested series of levels of consciousness. It all starts with what I think he calls proto-consciousness, which is the most basic representation of your own body. Then, he talks about self-consciousness, which he says is the ability to show your brain activity as it shows your body.

You become more self-aware as your brain maps not only your body but also how it maps your body, he says. This self-awareness is what we call “insight.” As time goes on, he moves on to autobiographical memory, which is basically your self-awareness over time. This allows you to keep track of where you’ve been, what you’ve felt like, and where you expect to be in the future. Finally, he moves on to moral consciousness or social consciousness, which is how you fit into the bigger system of other people’s consciousness.

You might not know this, but the author also looked at the anatomical evidence that shows that each of these different levels of consciousness is linked to a set of structures in the brain. So in the end, he came up with something that made sense and was not only backed up by evidence, but also had testable hypotheses about how different types of consciousness work and how they should break down when there are problems or disruptions in different parts of the brain. I think his book was very important and a big change in neuroscience.

Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human

by Richard Wrangham

In Richard’s book, he says that the invention of cooking was a big moment in human evolution history. I think he was the first person who thought it was possible for something that looked so simple to play a big role in our evolution. According to our calculations, if our ancestors hadn’t changed how many calories they could get, we wouldn’t be here. We’ve added to his story. In his book, Catching Fire, he says that cooking with fire was the main thing that changed.

In order to feed the brain, your body will start to break down itself.

Using tools to break down or modify food, like our ancestors could do with stone tools, can help us get more calories in less time, even before we started using fire to change our food. We know that when we start using fire to change our food, the change is huge. I use the word “cooking” in a much broader sense to refer to any processing of food before eating. In this way, I think cooking was the technological revolution that allowed the human brain to grow quickly. A human brain needs about 500 calories a day to keep it alive and well. There are very strict rules about this, too. If you don’t eat enough calories, your body will start breaking itself down to feed your brain first.

There are more calories burned when you do things that are mentally taxing.

It turns out that isn’t true. It’s about 500 calories no matter what you do, so it doesn’t matter. As far as we know, you use the same amount of energy whether you spend the whole day sitting around or working on a hard problem. As the brain cranks up activity in some places, it cranks it down in others. The most energy-consuming thing you do with your whole body is to move your body around, though. These 500 calories make up 25% of your energy needs for the day. Which is another thing that people used to think about the human brain that made it unique. No other brain we know of costs as much energy as the body does. That’s not the case at all, though. It’s just because we have a lot of neurons and are primates, which have more neurons in the brain than any other mammal that we know of so far. We use as much energy as we should for the number of neurons in our brain. It’s not unique in that way, either.

The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease

by Daniel Lieberman

The Story of the Human Body Evolution, Health and Disease

In fact, Dan Lieberman thinks about our bodies as a whole when he talks about our brains. Richard Wrangham is a friend of his, but I know they disagree on what was the first thing that allowed humans to grow their brains so quickly. If you don’t want to get burned, Richard doesn’t want to cook with fire. Dan thinks that happened too late, and he talks a lot about changes in the human body that also made us who we are. That includes the changes that made it possible for people to walk on two legs, as well. A bipedal primate moves around with only one-quarter as much energy as a quadruped, which moves with a lot of energy. Walking upright is slower, but it also takes less energy, so it’s more effective. He thinks that bipedality was one of the first things that allowed our ancestors to get more food in their day, because they could explore bigger areas.

This is how it works: “A bipedal primate moves around with one-fourth the amount of energy as an animal that walks on four legs.”

In Lieberman’s book, he talks about how the shape of your gluteus maximus (your butt), your toes, your neck muscles, and the position of your head all changed. All of these changes made our ancestors very good runners. Once you start running, you can use a new way to get food called “cooperative hunting.” This encourages the development of new tools and communication across individuals, which requires more processing power, so it’s thought that more neurons in the brain would be a good thing. So he puts all of these things together to make a very good case for how humans evolved and how quickly their brains grew.

It also answers the question of why only humans can cook, and not other primates, because there were a lot of other changes in the anatomy of our ancestors alone. When all those changes come together, you have a species that is not only able to stand on its feet, use its hands, and have enough neurons to process information, but you also have the technology to make it happen. There are many other things he talks about later on in the book, like how living in houses, eating a less diverse diet because of farming and using cars instead of our feet, and having a lot of food in your fridge all have an effect on your health. This is what he talks about. It’s a really interesting book.

The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution

by Joseph Henrich

This is what I think Joe’s book does very well. In the last chapter of my book, I talk about the idea that a number of neurons isn’t enough to explain our abilities, because all of the things we think of as our main abilities are learned. We aren’t born with all the knowledge or skills that we have as adults. We’re born with abilities, but we have to learn how to use them. If you think about it, that’s where cultural exchange comes in.

His example of elephant herds is beautiful. Only those with females old enough to have been through a drought 30 years ago and remember where the other waterholes were back then were able to stay alive during a drought. They pass this information on to the next generation. Besides having experience, we can also come up with new technologies and systems to solve problems and then spread those new technologies through our culture.

“The way you use your brain is at least as important as the biology you were born with.”

I like to ask people how much of what they see around them they could build. My desk is a good example. I could make some very basic paper, but even with my PhD and years of formal training, I wouldn’t be able to make a single pencil to write on that rough paper. The way we can use our biological abilities, the ways we can use those abilities through learning, and the ways we can use those abilities but only if we get help from other people shows how different these three things are. Those things are important to us as a species. Each person can’t hold on to them anymore. Well past the point where a single person could know everything there is to know about a species. I think it’s very humbling to think about how much of the world we could recreate on our own.

When we look at our evolutionary history, we see that culture and cultural transmission of technology play an important role. This makes a strong case for keeping people educated about science and technology, because when people lose this knowledge, everything that we hold so dear as the high achievements of the human species goes away. A lot more than the number of neurons we have, we’ve become a lot more than that. What you do with your brain is just as important as what your body was made of.

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