Monday, June 4, 2012

Book Review-How we decide

Nonfiction books often make for fascinating reading.  You can read someone's life story, learn about different cultures, or learn more about how things work.
In the learn about how things work category is the book How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer.  This is a book about how the brain works, in particular, how we make decisions.  Lehrer makes the current research on the brain accessible to lay readers.
For many years philosophers and scientists thought that we either decided through logical processes or by using feelings.  Now, scientists are beginning to understand that the process is not that simple.  It is a balancing act between gut feelings and thought out decisions.  They are also finding that both types of decision making have their place.  Learning when to make thought out decisions and when to trust your gut is the trick to making the best decisions.
Some key take-aways (at least in my opinion) are:  its ok to make mistakes...that is how our brains learn to make better decisions, sometimes complicated decisions are best made with our emotional brains (too much information can overwhelm the logical brain), our dopamine receptors like to be happy, the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed in teenagers so they are going to make mistakes (it helps their brains learn, after all!), sleeping on it can actually work, and learn to think outside the box.
This book is written for non-scientists, so don't be afraid to read a "science" book.  It is entertaining and enlightening.
How We Decide How We Decide
By Lehrer, Jonah
2009-02 - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH)
9780618620111 Check Our Catalog BookPage Notable Title

From the acclaimed author of "Proust Was a Neuroscientist" comes a fascinating look at the new science of decision-making. Lehrer explores two questions: How does the human mind make decisions? and How can those decisions be made better? …More

Other books by the same author.
Imagine: How Creativity Works Imagine: How Creativity Works
By Lehrer, Jonah
2012-03 - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH)
9780547386072 Check Our Catalog BookPage Notable Title

"New York Times"-bestselling author Lehrer ("How We Decide") introduces readers to musicians, graphic artists, poets, and bartenders to show how they can use science to be more imaginative and make their cities, their companies, and their culture more creative. …More

Proust Was a Neuroscientist Proust Was a Neuroscientist
By Lehrer, Jonah
2008-09 - Mariner Books
9780547085906 Check Our Catalog

Lehrer argues in this original book that science is not the only path to knowledge. In fact, where the brain is concerned, art got there first. Focusing on a group of artists, Lehrer shows how each one discovered an essential truth about the human mind that science is only now rediscovering. …More

Complimentary Reads
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
By Gladwell, Malcolm
2007-04 - Back Bay Books
9780316010665 Check Our Catalog

Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology, the author shows how the difference between good and bad decision-making has nothing to do with how much information can be processed quickly, but on the few particular details on which people focus. …More

Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain
By Eagleman, David M.
2011-05 - Pantheon Books
9780307377333 Check Our Catalog

If the conscious mind accounts for only a tiny fraction of the brain's function, what is all the rest doing? This is the question that Eagleman, a renowned neuroscientist and acclaimed author of "Sum," answers in a book as accessible and entertaining as it is deeply informed by startling, up-to-the-minute research. …More

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior
By Brafman, Ori
Author Brafman, Rom
2009-06 - Broadway Business
9780385530606 Check Our Catalog

Like the bestsellers "Blink" and "Freakonomics," this lively narrative offers a fresh view of the world, explaining the previously inexplicable and revealing hidden influences on human decision-making. …More

Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average
By Hallinan, Joseph T.
2010-02 - Broadway Books
9780767928069 Check Our Catalog

Journalist Hallinan sets out to explore the captivating science of human error, and offers this fascinating investigation of the science behind human imperfections. …More

To sign up for this, or any of our newsletters, check out our Newsletter sign up page.