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The Compassionate Brain: How Empathy Creates Intelligenceby Gerald Huther
Synopses & Reviews
Here is the ultimate explanation of the brain for everyone who thinks: a guide to how the brain works, how our brains came to operate the way they do, and, most important, how to use your precious gray matter to its full capacity.
The brain, according to current research, is not some kind of automatic machine that works independently of its user. In fact, the circuitry of the brain actually changes according to how one uses it. Our brains are continuously developing new capacities and refinements—or losing them, depending upon how we use them. Gerald Hüther takes us on a fascinating tour of the brain's development—from one-celled organisms to worms, moles, apes, and on to us humans—showing how we truly are what we think: our behavior directly affects our brain capacity. And the behavior that promotes the fullest development of the brain is behavior that balances emotion and intellect, dependence and autonomy, openness and focus, and ultimately expresses itself in such virtues as truthfulness, considerateness, sincerity, humility, and love.
Hüther's user's-manual approach is humorous and engaging, with a minimum of technical language, yet the book's message is profound: the fundamental nature of our brains and nervous systems naturally leads to our continued growth in intelligence and humanity.
"A kind of users manual for the human brain, neurobiologist Hüther's work explains in straightforward terms how the brain works, how our environment and behavior affect its development, and recommendations for the most effective ways to encourage our brains (and our children's) to operate at the highest possible levels. Beginning with the scientific basics of brain function, Hüther's discussion ranges from the history of European philosophy (especially Plato, Kant and Heidegger) to current trends encouraged by the mass media. Especially striking are the final sections of the book, which begin with a quote from seventeenth-century Jesuit writer Baltasar Gracian, whose theological investigations of human conduct reach the same conclusions as Hüther's laboratory research: humans must encourage all actions and mental habits that engender feelings of deep personal concern (empathy) and reject those that do not. Although the discussion avoids moralizing, Hüther's conclusions border at times on the apocalyptic, with visions of a human race trained by TV, advertising, video games and consumerism to content themselves with material comfort and overstimulation, to the point that they become nearly incapable of survival. Hüther is an engaging writer, however, and this concise, elegant work will appeal to a great many readers, from those interested in neuroscience and psychology to those interested in philosophy, religion, and history." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A renowned neuroscientist reveals the connection between compassion and brain capacity and opens an accessible and entertaining window into the cutting edge of brain science.
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Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Cognitive Science