Mind Hacks: Tips & Tools for Using Your Brain

Mind Hacks: Tips & Tools for Using Your Brain

Tom Stafford

Language: English

Pages: 396

ISBN: 0596007795

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


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.

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so again. A computer user may prefer one browser, but if another one comes bundled with her new operating system, we can bet that’s what she’ll end up relying on. You may have no rational reason for choosing Brand A over Brand B when you buy jam, but if the manufacturers of Brand B can get you to try it (maybe by giving you a free sample or a special offer), they’ve overcome the major barrier that would have stopped you from buying it next time. Status quo bias works for beliefs as well as

Using eye tracking devices, it is possible to construct images of where people fixate when looking at different kinds of objects—a news web site, for instance. The Poynter Institute’s Eyetrack III project ( http://www.poynterextra.org/eyetrack2004/ ) investigates how Internet news readers go about perusing news online (Figure 2-3) and shows the results of their study as a pattern of where eye gaze lingers while looking over a news web site. Part of developing speed-reading skills is learning to

noisy: the timings of when they fire, or even whether they fire at all, is subject to random variation. We make generalizations at the psychological level, such as saying that the speed of response is related to intensity by a certain formula—Pieron’s Law [[Hack #11]]. And we also say that cells in the visual cortex respond to different specific motions [[Hack #25]]. But both of these are true only on average. For any single cell, or any single test of reaction time, there is variation each time

otherwise. When you play the sine-wave speech MP3 (called SWS on the site) to your friend, don’t tell her it’s a voice. She’ll just hear a beeping sound. Then let her hear the original voice of the same sentence, and play the SWS again. With her new knowledge, the sound is routed to speech recognition and will sound quite different. Knowing that the sound is actually made out of words and is English (so it’s made out of guessable phonemes and morphemes), allows the whole recognition process to

language seems to define the kinds of subjects who can do this task at better than 50% accuracy. Rats can’t do it. Children who don’t have language yet can’t do it. Postlinguistic children and adults can do it. Convinced? Here’s the rub: if you tie up an adult’s language ability, her performance drops to close to 50%. This is what Linda Hermer-Vazquez, Elizabeth Spelke, and Alla Katsnelson did. 6 They got subjects to do the experiment, but all the time they were doing it, they were asked to

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