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Brain Bugs: How the Brain's Flaws Shape Our Lives [Audio Cassette]

Dean Buonomano , William Hughes
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Audio, Cassette, July 11 2011 --  
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Book Description

July 11 2011
The human brain is more beautiful and complex than anything we could ever build but it's far from perfect. Our memory is unreliable; we can't multiply large sums in our heads; advertising manipulates our judgment; we tend to distrust people who are different from us; supernatural beliefs are hard to shake and we prefer instant gratification to long-term gain. Dean Buonomano illuminates the causes and consequences of these "bugs" in terms of the brain's innermost workings and their evolutionary purposes. He then goes a step further, examining how our brains function - and malfunction - in the digital, predator-free, information-saturated, special effects-addled world that we have built for ourselves. Along the way, this lively, surprising tour of mental glitches and how they arise gives us the tools to hone our cognitive strengths while recognising our inherent weaknesses.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Review

Intriguing take on behavioral economics, marketing and human foibles. " --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Dean Buonomano is a professor in the Departments of Neurobiology and Psychology and the Brain Research Institute at UCLA. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
By Eric Lawton TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Our brains are quite wonderful devices but are the product of a long evolutionary process. This book explains, as the subtitle says, how the brain's "flaws" shape our lives, but goes beyond just that. It also explains how some of those "flaws" are actually very good compromises given that we can't have perfect brains, we can only do so much with so much brain tissue and so much energy to power it. The flaws also provide good insight as to how our brains actually work, so when you have finished the book you will understand more of the strengths and weaknesses of your own brain and that of others.
The book also covers some of how advertisers and others can exploit some of our bugs to get us to do things that are not actually in our own best interest, so there is practical value as well.
I enjoyed reading this well-written book, so got entertained and informed at the same time. Strongly recommended.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  39 reviews
57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brief Summary and Review July 17 2011
By A. D. Thibeault - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
*A full executive summary of this book is available at newbooksinbrief dot com.

The main argument: As much as we rely on our brains to navigate the complex world before us, anyone who has ever forgotten someone's name, or misread a situation, or made a poor decision in the heat of the moment knows that the brain does not always work as we would want. In his new book `Brain Bugs', neurobiologist Dean Buonomano explores the brain's many pitfalls and mistakes (and how and why it makes them), and also offers up some advice on how we can best manage these so called `brain bugs' in our everyday lives.

Buonomano identifies 3 major sources whence brain bugs originate. The first has to do with the fact that our brains are the product of evolution, and have evolved as they have to answer the specific challenges that we faced in our evolutionary history; therefore, while our brains may be well adapted to perform functions that were particularly important in our survival and reproduction in the environment in which our species evolved, they may not do as well at functions which, though handy, did not figure as prominently in our evolutionary past (remembering names seems to fall under this category). The second source of our brain bugs may be attributed to the fact that while evolution has brought us a host of useful mental abilities that have allowed us to survive and thrive, it is still a rather clumsy process, and as such does not always offer up perfect, or even optimal solutions; thus the mental systems that we have are sometimes prone to error and quirky behaviour (hence optical illusions, the ever raging and somewhat awkward battle between our reason and our impulses, and a number of other interesting effects). Finally, the third source of our brain bugs stems from the fact that while many of the brain systems that we have inherited were well adapted to the environment in which our species evolved, this environment has changed considerably in the recent past, to the point where some of the adaptations themselves may be ineffective and even counter-productive today (our craving of sugary, fatty foods, for instance, would have been very useful in the environment in which we evolved--where starvation was much more of a threat than heart disease, but can be positively disastrous in the modern world, where the opposite is more often the case). A full executive summary of the book is available at newbooksinbrief dot com.
49 of 61 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better popular science books to be had out there. Aug. 12 2011
By Kindle Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
While covering a very interesting topic by a undoubtedly talented author, the book falls short of other similar books in the field of psychology. The author's writing is very slow to start, dancing around the same topic endless without exploring it in depth or giving concrete real world examples. This is somewhat remedied near the end of the book but 70 pages could be cut from the book and express the same ideas clearly.

As regular reader of popular science psychology books, I thought my opinion of the book might have been tainted by nostalgia and familiarity with the concepts but upon rereading passages from previous books I found that this was not the case. If you are looking for more enjoyable books in the same area I suggest reading:

Stumbling on Happiness
The Paradox of Choice
How we Decide
Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior

All of the above provide a more enjoyable experience by engaging the reader with interesting in-book activities and well paced writing.
18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THINK July 24 2011
By rosanne - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Okay. Kenya? -Africa; colors of chess pieces? - black and white. So far so good. Animal - Don't think zebra, No! Think of something else, anything else. Finally, I gave up and admitted that it had to be ZEBRA - nothing else would come up - (unless, with great leaps, man is an animal and I could think about racial turmoil - But I didn't. After passing/failing the first little tidbit, I was hooked... went and got Dean Buonomano's Brain Bugs to find out what was going on with my brain and free will.

Although, I have not finished the book, I am fascinated by the clear explanations, analogies to things I think I can understand, and the dry wit and humor of his writing. He has made what could have been an arid, impenetrable subject come to life and mean something more than synapses and brain waves...and scientific gobbledy-gook.

Have to admit, now, that indeed we have brain bugs...and that most likely we will not be de-bugging any time soon.

This is a must book for anyone who really thinks he/she thinks or is self programmed. You're not.... Find out why. Read Brain Bugs .
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book! Nov. 4 2011
By Lisa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Excellent and thought provoking book about how the brain flaws influence
society at large. It not only was a fun read but very engaging and much to learn. Definitively recommend it!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating book Sept. 10 2011
By Andrew Gentile - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read this book over a month ago and I haven't yet stopped thinking about it. It is a fascinating account of how the brain learns and associates ideas. The brain is continually manipulating data in order to make that data fit the brain's template of the world. This book redefined my opinion of what it means to learn.

The author uses the metaphor of a computer program to explain the hierarchy of the brain. The conscious brain acts as the main program, while the various facets of the unconscious brain are subroutines, which are called as required by the main. What an excellent metaphor.

The book contains several very good examples of brain "flaws" which the reader can perform. These demonstrations are entertaining and enlightening. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys playing with ideas.
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