PDA

View Full Version : decent books on how the mind works



andysays
06-08-2009, 08:53 PM
anyone know of any? i've been wanting to learn about this for a long time. i started reading, uhh, 'How the Mind Works' by Steven Pinker but it hasnt really grabbed me yet - too much about comparing the brain to computer networks and not enough about human behaviour/psychology.

and whenever i search google i just get A-level textbooks.

john eden
06-08-2009, 10:41 PM
sorry to be a pain but can you be a bit more specific - this sort of thing can cover everything from:

electrics
chemicals and hormones
freud etc
behaviourism
mad stuff like morphic resonance
developmental stuff
schizophrenia and abnormal
social psychology - conformity and all that
druuuuuuuuugs
the different areas of the brain and what happens if you hit them with a hammer

if the answer is "all of the above" then those a level text books are probably a good place to start! (that's where I started with it all anyway...)

nomadthethird
06-08-2009, 11:05 PM
If you're looking for a cognitive scientist's perspective, Paul and Patricia Churchland have written a lot of good books and articles. (I tend to prefer them over the "weights and balances" people but...)

Mr. Tea
07-08-2009, 01:12 AM
It's way, and I mean like waaaay, out there, but Roger Penrose's Shadows Of The Mind is a fascinating (though challenging!) read. Highly speculative and certainly not for someone just wanting to brush up on basic psychology or neurology, but interesting - to someone sick of the brain-as-organic-computer schtick - in that Penrose seeks to prove precisely that the brain does not operate as a Turing machine. He does this via some fairly hardcore symbolic logic and then appeals rather vaguely to quantum gravity (no, seriously) for a possible explanation. Still, there's certainly plenty of new ideas in it. I think it extends and expands upon an earlier book called The Emperor's New Mind, though I haven't read that.

One of these centuries I'll get round to buying Hofstadter's I Am A Strange Loop. My birthday's in October if anyone here is feeling generous...

andysays
07-08-2009, 02:02 AM
sorry yeah i know it's a pretty broad question to ask. i suppose out of all that you mentioned John i would narrow it down to:

behaviourism
developmental
social psychology
schizophrenia and abnormal (mildy curious on this - more interested in the above)

cheers nomad and mr. tea for your suggestions, i'm looking into them


Hofstadter's I Am A Strange Loop

have you read Godel, Escher, Bach?

Mr. Tea
07-08-2009, 02:19 AM
have you read Godel, Escher, Bach?

Only in short snatches in the bookshop! Another one for my to-read list. Still, Christmas is coming...sort of...

baboon2004
07-08-2009, 11:41 AM
the different areas of the brain and what happens if you hit them with a hammer


Any recommendations on this theme welcome. I need the theory to back up my practical forays in this area.

3 Body No Problem
07-08-2009, 01:25 PM
I like books written by neuroscientists. Good ones:


I of the Vortex (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=DSp7MG8oGDIC&dq=I+of+the+Vortex+--+Rodolfo+Llinas&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en#v=onepage&q=&f=false) by R. Llinas.

Rhythms of the brain (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=yVz4d4d9ZzsC&dq=Gyorgy+Buzsaki++Rhythms+of+the+Brain&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en#v=onepage&q=&f=false) by G. Buzsáki.


The latter is a bit more technical than you would expect from a popular science book, but not much. I'm not sure I would recommend Goedel, Escher, Bach in this context. There's now also a lot of good material on the web, e.g. the Social Psychology (http://webcast.berkeley.edu/course_details.php?seriesid=1906978368) introductory course from Berkeley.

john eden
07-08-2009, 01:41 PM
Any recommendations on this theme welcome. I need the theory to back up my practical forays in this area.

ha ha - it is a quite bizarre field - a lot of what we know about the geography of the brain is because various people had accidents and then behaved differently - there was one guy who had a girder stciking through a bit if his head and survived.

I did all this so long ago I can't remember much of it (except the gory bits obviously). So I'm sure my recommendations would be well out of date anyway...

poetix
07-08-2009, 05:30 PM
It's way, and I mean like waaaay, out there, but Roger Penrose's Shadows Of The Mind is a fascinating (though challenging!) read. Highly speculative and certainly not for someone just wanting to brush up on basic psychology or neurology, but interesting - to someone sick of the brain-as-organic-computer schtick - in that Penrose seeks to prove precisely that the brain does not operate as a Turing machine. He does this via some fairly hardcore symbolic logic and then appeals rather vaguely to quantum gravity (no, seriously) for a possible explanation. Still, there's certainly plenty of new ideas in it. I think it extends and expands upon an earlier book called The Emperor's New Mind, though I haven't read that.

One of these centuries I'll get round to buying Hofstadter's I Am A Strange Loop. My birthday's in October if anyone here is feeling generous...

I saw Penrose present some of these ideas years ago in a pub in Oxford. He demonstrated that there are certain things a Turing machine cannot do. He did not demonstrate (but seemed to assume) that the brain could do them. I remain unpersuaded that there is anything a brain can do (in the way of information processing) that a Turing machine can't; which doesn't mean that I'm persuaded that the brain is a Turing machine. It may be that "information processing" is too narrow a rubric for what the brain actually does, but Penrose seems to think that it does (quantum) magic information processing.

mms
07-08-2009, 08:42 PM
this is good
http://www.mindhacks.com/

credit crunch
08-08-2009, 12:08 PM
The Quantum brain:The search for freedom and the next generation of man by Jeffrey Satinover is a good read regarding the possible application of quantum physics in brain function.

Corpsey
08-08-2009, 12:11 PM
I read the Pinker book - the chapters on the 'technical' workings of the mind are unbelievably boring, aren't they?

After that bit there's a lot about human behaviour, though. That sort of stuff takes up most of the book, really.

synapticat
08-08-2009, 02:47 PM
'Brain and Culture' by Bruce Wexler is a neurological approach to developmental psychology and the understanding of culture as embodied and 'plastic'.

'Converstations on Consciousness' is perhaps the best introduction to this sort of stuff. Its a anthology of interviews with twenty or so scientists and philosophers. The main subject of discussion being the 'hard problem' - how do physiological brain states result in phenomenological conscious states?

Its worth getting a copy of the 'Cambridge Companion to the Mind', it is an encyclopedia of terms from neurology, psychology and philosophy of mind.


Also;

Check out the blogs 'Mind Hacks' and 'Neurophilosophy'.

rob_giri
13-08-2009, 10:10 PM
I appreciate the mention of morphic resonance before


I suggest Tim Leary and Robert Anton Wilson for two highly intelligent, comical, heuristically imaginative, philosophical and occasionally outrageous takes on all known human knowledge on neuroscience, quantum physics, modern chemistry, semantics, ancient neurological scripts and comparitive religion.

msoes
14-08-2009, 11:58 AM
one thing to take into account is that a lot of the authors are psychologists with strong opinions which don't really represent the mainstream. paul and patricia churchland are super strong reductionists which isnt really mainstream psychological thinking, pinker's more recent stuff pushes strongly evolutionary psychology which isnt well accepted etc.. Still interesting, but don't read these books like they are always representing current scientific knowledge, they are pushing their own theories. Pinker's language instinct is good for linguistic stuff, although some bits are so dry you will need to skip them.

HMGovt
14-08-2009, 04:19 PM
Best book I've read recently on the subject - and I've read loads of them over the past 15 years - is 'The Kingdom of Infinite Space' by Tallis. How the mind works without reference to the brain. Quite a feat.

I can also back up Mr Tea's recommendation of Penrose's 'Shadows of the Mind', I believe nature would go all the way to physical bottom to bring something like qualitative consciousness to the surface.

nomadthethird
15-08-2009, 02:59 AM
one thing to take into account is that a lot of the authors are psychologists with strong opinions which don't really represent the mainstream. paul and patricia churchland are super strong reductionists which isnt really mainstream psychological thinking, pinker's more recent stuff pushes strongly evolutionary psychology which isnt well accepted etc.. Still interesting, but don't read these books like they are always representing current scientific knowledge, they are pushing their own theories. Pinker's language instinct is good for linguistic stuff, although some bits are so dry you will need to skip them.

Right, but that's where the interesting reading is...when it comes to the "mainstream" in science, I suspect that's a little more elusive than it sounds, especially when it comes to theories of mind. Consensus really just isn't there, and the most interesting theories aren't the ones that make the most sense according to our everyday perceptions of what thinking or the mind is. [The Churchlands aren't psychologists anyway, they're cognitive scientists--but I understand your point.]

synapticat
15-08-2009, 04:21 PM
Dan Dennett Quoting Minsky (i think)...

"The study of one neuron - thats neuroscience, the study of two neurons - thats psychology"

nomadthethird
15-08-2009, 07:54 PM
Dan Dennett Quoting Minsky (i think)...

"The study of one neuron - thats neuroscience, the study of two neurons - thats psychology"

Technically the study of neurons or the brain as a whole organ is still neuroscience or actually "neurology". People do it all the time. Psychology is the study of thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and the ways in which these (sometimes) relate to physiological and neurological states. It's a snappy quote but I think it's sort of bullshitty.

synapticat
15-08-2009, 08:12 PM
The point of the quote as i see it is that psychology begins when we start to understand the cognitive, neurological network. Weather that be understood in 3rd person scientific or phenomenological terms - thoughts, feeling etc.

I dont think Dennett would have have dropped a bullshitty phrase in order to comes across as a 'snappy' kinda guy.

nomadthethird
15-08-2009, 08:32 PM
The point of the quote as i see it is that psychology begins when we start to understand the cognitive, neurological network. Weather that be understood in 3rd person scientific or phenomenological terms - thoughts, feeling etc.

I dont think Dennett would have have dropped a bullshitty phrase in order to comes across as a 'snappy' kinda guy.

You could think of it like hardware and software (yes I know...). Neurologists or neuroscientists study the "hardware" of the brain, its neurons, its internal structures, while psychologists study its "emergent" properties, sort of like software, where inputs from outside create outputs...these properties are not only brain-related phenomena anyway--psychological phenomena rely on worlds, not just brains. A brain has sense organs in a body which has sense organs out there in the world.

If you think about it, Dennett's quote there is extremely reductionist. He's saying psychology is just the product of neuronal interaction and has nothing to do with environment.

nomadthethird
15-08-2009, 08:38 PM
I would say it like this "the study of one neuron is neurology, the study of the mind is cognitive science, the study of one person's mind is psychology, the study of two people or more is sociology, the study of groups in their environment is evolutionary biology..."

you could go on for a long time with that. not very snappy though.

synapticat
15-08-2009, 09:35 PM
Dennett was actually trying to undo the distinctions between, neuroscience, philosophy, psychology etc buy doing exactly what you are saying he doesnt do. That is emphasize the relationality of the environment to neurological 'hardware'. When he says "two neurons", he is talking about the processing of inputs or information.

He is not saying that psychology must only concern its self with multiple neurons. But that psychology (if understood as embodied) begins here.


As for your taxonomy of academic disciplines, they seem fluid and interchangeable. Which after all, is one of Dennett's best lessons.

nomadthethird
15-08-2009, 10:17 PM
Well, ok. Dennett's mostly known for being an adaptationist, and for a relatively reductionist cognitive model that would eliminate things like "qualia" from the scientific vocabulary. Out of context, that quote you've cited seems to line up quite well with what I've read of and by him. I suppose I'd have to hear it in context to know exactly what he meant by it...

He's also a famous athiest whose journalistic writing I've admired here and there, although I don't always agree with it.

Mr. Tea
16-08-2009, 06:54 AM
"The study of one coin, that's numismatics; the study of two coins, that's economics."

credit crunch
16-08-2009, 10:33 AM
"The study of one testicle, thats physiology; the study of two testicles, thats homosexuality"

Q-point
06-10-2009, 02:14 PM
Dennett is quite a good read, at least from what I've encountered. I guess it does depend upon your stance on reductionism. He makes some of the best arguments for it I've seen, though. He's quite scathingly dismissive of non-reductionists, which can be amusingly insightful or irritating depending on which way you lean.

Apart from that, I'd beware of most books that try to propose relationships between quantum mechanics and the brain, particularly vague association between quantum undecidability and free will. I've come across some of this stuff before and it's mostly on the quack side of speculative.

polystyle desu
06-10-2009, 02:42 PM
Hey Andysays, here's an article one may enjoy . the brain and anxiety ...
It's free and probably newer research then many 'books' >
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/04/magazine/04anxiety-t.html

m99188868
06-10-2009, 05:44 PM
If you want theory, you'd probably like Maturana & Varela's "Tree of Knowledge". It's quite accessible as well.

Room with a view
06-10-2009, 09:37 PM
met this guy, chatted bout some stuff and he gave me a book. A good read it was too. Simple, factual and written for the layman.


Going inside - John McCrone

Going Inside tells the story of a single instant of consciousness, showing how the brain pulls together a state of subjective experience in about a third of a second. There have been many heavy-duty books on mind science to chose from over the past few years, but this covers very different terrain to most. It gets more deeply into the actual neuroanatomy of brains and the personalities that shape the field. It also reveals the struggle to break away from old computational and reductionist ways of thinking about the mind-brain connection, looking at what it means to take a holistic or complex systems approach to neuroscience.

http://www.dichotomistic.com/about_intro.html

petergunn
08-10-2009, 10:14 AM
http://www.amazon.com/Red-Book-C-G-Jung/dp/0393065677

polystyle desu
08-10-2009, 02:25 PM
http://www.amazon.com/Red-Book-C-G-Jung/dp/0393065677

Cheers on Red Book Peter .
Looking forward to it ...