Thursday, February 08, 2018

Review: Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience

I got Brain Myths Exploded off an Audible sale, despite it probably covering many topics I'd previously read or heard about. These included Brain Rules, Thinking Fast and Slow, and of course, Predictably Irrational. Indeed, most of the lecture series was like that: Viskontas would start on a topic and I'd immediately check off some item I'd read about elsewhere. What kept me going was that she's a great lecturer, and very personable, frequently bringing in lessons from her day to day life.

The last lecture in the series was great, taking a very contrarian approach to much of the current hand-wringing over screen time, computers making us dumber, or even social networks being moved into the internet. Her thinking is that most people are actually pretty good at shifting cognitive loads over the computers and search engines, but the research told you that you weren't going to be able to use a computer to find something in the future, people would pay more attention and still be able to remember what they needed to remember.

Similarly, social network unhappiness leads to people using fewer social networks or using them in ways that don't make them unhappy. I wonder if she feels the same way about how we know now that social networks and Google played a big role in the last election.

In any case, if you haven't done as much reading as I have on neuroscience, this would be a great introduction. Even in my case, I learned a few things here and there, and found it entertaining and well presented.

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