Synopses & Reviews
The brain is a fearsomely complex information-processing environment — one that often eludes our ability to understand it. At any given time, the brain is collecting, filtering, and analyzing information and, in response, performing countless intricate processes, some of which are automatic, some voluntary, some conscious, and some unconscious.
Cognitive neuroscience is one of the ways we have to understand the workings of our minds. It's the study of the brain biology behind our mental functions: a collection of methods — like brain scanning and computational modeling — combined with a way of looking at psychological phenomena and discovering where, why, and how the brain makes them happen.
Want to know more? Mind Hacks is a collection of probes into the moment-by-moment works of the brain. Using cognitive neuroscience, these experiments, tricks, and tips related to vision, motor skills, attention, cognition, subliminal perception, and more throw light on how the human brain works. Each hack examines specific operations of the brain. By seeing how the brain responds, we pick up clues about the architecture and design of the brain, learning a little bit more about how the brain is put together.
Mind Hacks begins your exploration of the mind with a look inside the brain itself, using hacks such as "Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Turn On and Off Bits of the Brain" and "Tour the Cortex and the Four Lobes." Also among the 100 hacks in this book, you'll find:
- Release Eye Fixations for Faster Reactions
- See Movement When All is Still
- Feel the Presence and Loss of Attention
- Detect Sounds on the Margins of Certainty
- Mold Your Body Schema
- Test Your Handedness
- See a Person in Moving Lights
- Make Events Understandable as Cause-and-Effect
- Boost Memory by Using Context
- Understand Detail and the Limits of Attention
Steven Johnson, author of Mind Wide Open writes in his foreword to the book, "These hacks amaze because they reveal the brain's hidden logic; they shed light on the cheats and shortcuts and latent assumptions our brains make about the world." If you want to know more about what's going on in your head, then Mind Hacks is the key — let yourself play with the interface between you and the world.
"The articles are interesting and explained well, and the examples in the book are engaging. If you just want to sit down and read a book from front to back on this subject, Steven Pinker's How the Mind Works
is highly recommended. If you want to learn some wacky things about how our minds function without wading through a standard nonfiction tome, Mind Hacks
is the book you're after." Doug Brown, Powells.com
(Read the entire Powells.com review
This exploration into the moment-by-moment works of the brain uses cognitive neuroscience to present experiments, tricks, and tips related to vision, motor skills, attention, cognition, and subliminal perception. Each hack examines specific operations of the brain. By seeing how the brain responds, you'll learn more about how the brain is put together. If you want to find out what's going on in your head, then Mind Hacks is the key.
About the Author
Tom Stafford has a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience and is currently a research associate in the Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield. He is also an associate editor of the Psychologist magazine and has previously worked as a freelance writer and researcher for the BBC.
Matt Webb's background is in new media. His freelance activities include an IM interface to Google, which predated the Google API and is included in O'Reilly's Google Hacks. He launched a project to find the Web's favorite color that was featured on BBC News Online and national newspapers in the UK. His current job in R&D at the BBC involves these kinds of projects internally, and gives him experience at addressing abstract social and technological ideas to mixed audiences. He was a popular speaker at O'Reilly's Emerging Technology Conference in 2004.
Table of Contents
Dedication; Preface; Why Mind Hacks?; How to Use This Book; How This Book Is Organized; Conventions Used in This Book; Using Material from This Book; How to Contact Us; Got a Hack?; Chapter 1: Inside the Brain; 1.1 Hacks 1-12; 1 Find Out How the Brain Works Without Looking Inside; 2 Electroencephalogram: Getting the Big Picture with EEGs; 3 Positron Emission Tomography: Measuring Activity Indirectly with PET; 4 Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging: The State of the Art; 5 Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Turn On and Off Bits of the Brain; 6 Neuropsychology, the 10% Myth, and Why You Use All of Your Brain; 7 Get Acquainted with the Central Nervous System; 8 Tour the Cortex and the Four Lobes; 9 The Neuron; 10 Detect the Effect of Cognitive Function on Cerebral Blood Flow; 11 Why People Don’t Work Like Elevator Buttons; 12 Build Your Own Sensory Homunculus; Chapter 2: Seeing; 2.1 Hacks 13-33; 13 Understand Visual Processing; 14 See the Limits of Your Vision; 15 To See, Act; 16 Map Your Blind Spot; 17 Glimpse the Gaps in Your Vision; 18 When Time Stands Still; 19 Release Eye Fixations for Faster Reactions; 20 Fool Yourself into Seeing 3D; 21 Objects Move, Lighting Shouldn’t; 22 Depth Matters; 23 See How Brightness Differs from Luminance: The Checker Shadow Illusion; 24 Create Illusionary Depth with Sunglasses; 25 See Movement When All Is Still; 26 Get Adjusted; 27 Show Motion Without Anything Moving; 28 Motion Extrapolation: The Flash-Lag Effect”; 29 Turn Gliding Blocks into Stepping Feet; 30 Understand the Rotating Snakes Illusion; 31 Minimize Imaginary Distances; 32 Explore Your Defense Hardware; 33 Neural Noise Isnt a Bug; Its a Feature; Chapter 3: Attention; 3.1 Hacks 34-43; 34 Detail and the Limits of Attention; 35 Count Faster with Subitizing; 36 Feel the Presence and Loss of Attention; 37 Grab Attention; 38 Don’t Look Back!; 39 Avoid Holes in Attention; 40 Blind to Change; 41 Make Things Invisible Simply by Concentrating (on Something Else); 42 The Brain Punishes Features that Cry Wolf; 43 Improve Visual Attention Through Video Games; Chapter 4: Hearing and Language; 4.1 Hacks 44-52; 44 Detect Timing with Your Ears; 45 Detect Sound Direction; 46 Discover Pitch; 47 Keep Your Balance; 48 Detect Sounds on the Margins of Certainty; 49 Speech Is Broadband Input to Your Head; 50 Give Big-Sounding Words to Big Concepts; 51 Stop Memory-Buffer Overrun While Reading; 52 Robust Processing Using Parallelism; Chapter 5: Integrating; 5.1 Hacks 53-61; 53 Put Timing Information into Sound and Location Information into Light; 54 Don’t Divide Attention Across Locations; 55 Confuse Color Identification with Mixed Signals; 56 Don’t Go There; 57 Combine Modalities to Increase Intensity; 58 Watch Yourself to Feel More; 59 Hear with Your Eyes: The McGurk Effect; 60 Pay Attention to Thrown Voices; 61 Talk to Yourself; Chapter 6: Moving; 6.1 Hacks 62-69; 62 The Broken Escalator Phenomenon: When Autopilot Takes Over; 63 Keep Hold of Yourself; 64 Mold Your Body Schema; 65 Why Can’t You Tickle Yourself?; 66 Trick Half Your Mind; 67 Objects Ask to Be Used; 68 Test Your Handedness; 69 Use Your Right Brainand Your Left, Too; Chapter 7: Reasoning; 7.1 Hacks 70-74; 70 Use Numbers Carefully; 71 Think About Frequencies Rather than Probabilities; 72 Detect Cheaters; 73 Fool Others into Feeling Better; 74 Maintain the Status Quo; Chapter 8: Togetherness; 8.1 Hacks 75-80; 75 Grasp the Gestalt; 76 To Be Noticed, Synchronize in Time; 77 See a Person in Moving Lights; 78 Make Things Come Alive; 79 Make Events Understandable as Cause and Effect; 80 Act Without Knowing It; Chapter 9: Remembering; 9.1 Hacks 81-92; 81 Bring Stuff to the Front of Your Mind; 82 Subliminal Messages Are Weak and Simple; 83 Fake Familiarity; 84 Keep Your Sources Straight (if You Can); 85 Create False Memories; 86 Change Context to Build Robust Memories; 87 Boost Memory Using Context; 88 Think Yourself Strong; 89 Navigate Your Way Through Memory; 90 Have an Out-of-Body Experience; 91 Enter the Twilight Zone: The Hypnagogic State; 92 Make the Caffeine Habit Taste Good; Chapter 10: Other People; 10.1 Hacks 93-100; 93 Understand What Makes Faces Special; 94 Signal Emotion; 95 Make Yourself Happy; 96 Reminisce Hot and Cold; 97 Look Where I’m Looking; 98 Monkey See, Monkey Do; 99 Spread a Bad Mood Around; 100 You Are What You Think; Colophon;