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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Secret Life of the Mind by Mariano Sigman

Our brains are remarkably complex organs that supervise and adjust and modify every aspect of our bodies and our lives.  Our brains shape our behavior, record our memories, control our heart rate and our immune systems, make decisions, develop our personal philosophies. The brain really is an enigma; it is a mystery, a marvel, and a work in progress.  The brain changes itself, it grows, and it re-wires itself--and these changes can be positive or negative.

The Secret Life of the Mind (I've mentioned the book in previous posts) expands on issues concerning the way infants conceive morality--the results are intriguing, but it is also fascinating to learn about the experiments devised to understand how infants understand and process information.  How can we know what  pre-verbal infants and toddlers think?  How early do they recognize right from wrong and what influences their decisions?  Researchers have created experiments that are simple, practical, and remarkably interesting.

The section on hunches vs deliberation feels intuitively correct--we recognize aspects in our own decision- making even if we have never analyzed them.  When is it best to deliberate about a decision and when is an instinct or a hunch preferred--and why?

  The body recognizes and acknowledges some things (often using past experience or knowledge) even before the brain can process the information.  Our decisions are often made seconds before we even "think" them.  Even the regret over a wrong decision is present before we are aware of it and before the decision is proven wrong by the situation.   

Neuroscience is a multidisciplinary subdivision of biology that works closely with other disciplines and covers a wide variety of topics.  Sigman's The Secret Life of the Mind moves easily from one topic to another, providing information that affirms some of our own opinions and challenges others.   The many ways the topics are approached by different disciplines provide both answers and intriguing questions.

From a book description, The Secret Life of the Mind "combines the astonishing work of biologists, physicists, mathematicians, psychologists, anthropologists, linguists, engineers, philosophers and medical doctors – not to forget cooks, magicians, musicians, chess players, writers, and artists." 

Informative and entertaining, Mariano Sigman engages readers through his own enthusiasm and curiosity.  Highly Recommended.

NetGalley/Little, Brown, & Co    

Nonfiction/Brain/Neuroscience.  June 27, 2017.  Print length:  270 pages.  


  1. This sounds like a wonderful non-fiction read!

    1. It gave me a lot to think about and to talk about! :)

  2. Sounds like a fascinating read! Hopefully our library has a copy.

    1. It really was a fascinating read, and I was impressed with the various ways the researchers went about gathering information!