decent books on how the mind works

andysays

not andy
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

male pale and stale
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

more issues than Time mag
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

Shub-Niggurath, Please
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...
 
Last edited:

andysays

not andy
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?
 

3 Body No Problem

Well-known member
I like books written by neuroscientists. Good ones:

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 introductory course from Berkeley.
 
Last edited:

john eden

male pale and stale
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

we murder to dissect
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.
 

credit crunch

_________
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

call me big papa
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.
 
'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

Well-known member
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

Well-known member
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

Bamber Clatscoigne
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

more issues than Time mag
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.]
 
Dan Dennett Quoting Minsky (i think)...

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

nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
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.
 
Top