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Cognitive Science

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  1. 11.8 hrs • 4/19/2016 • Unabridged

    A fascinating exploration of how computer algorithms can be applied to our everyday lives, helping to solve common decision-making problems and illuminate the workings of the human mind. All our lives are constrained by limited space and time, limits that give rise to a particular set of problems. What should we do, or leave undone, in a day or a lifetime? How much messiness should we accept? What balance of new activities and familiar favorites is the most fulfilling? These may seem like uniquely human quandaries, but they are not: computers, too, face the same constraints, so computer scientists have been grappling with their version of such problems for decades. And the solutions they’ve found have much to teach us. In a dazzlingly interdisciplinary work, acclaimed author Brian Christian and cognitive scientist Tom Griffiths show how the simple, precise algorithms used by computers can also untangle very human questions. They explain how to have better hunches and when to leave things to chance, how to deal with overwhelming choices and how best to connect with others. From finding a spouse to finding a parking spot, from organizing one’s inbox to understanding the workings of human memory, Algorithms to Live By transforms the wisdom of computer science into strategies for human living.

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    Algorithms to Live By

    11.8 hrs • 4/19/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 7.0 hrs • 2/2/2016 • Unabridged

    Extraordinary things happen when we harness the power of both the brain and the heart. Growing up in the high desert of California, Jim Doty was poor, living with an alcoholic father and a mother chronically depressed and paralyzed by a stroke. Today he is the director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University, of which the Dalai Lama is a founding benefactor. But back then his life was at a dead end—until at the age of twelve when he wandered into a magic shop looking for a plastic thumb. There he met Ruth, a woman who taught him a series of exercises to ease his own suffering and manifest his greatest desires. Her final mandate was that he keep his heart open and teach these techniques to others. Ruth gave Doty his first glimpse of the unique relationship between the brain and the heart. Doty would go on to put Ruth’s techniques to work, bringing power and wealth that he could only imagine as a twelve-year-old. But he neglects Ruth’s most important lesson, to keep his heart open, with disastrous results—until he has the opportunity to make a spectacular charitable contribution that will virtually ruin him. Part memoir, part science, part inspiration, and part practical instruction, Into the Magic Shop shows us how we can fundamentally change our lives by first changing our brains and our hearts.

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    Into the Magic Shop by James R. Doty, MD

    Into the Magic Shop

    7.0 hrs • 2/2/16 • Unabridged
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  3. 10.3 hrs • 2/2/2016

    A bestselling author and distinguished critic goes back to high school to find out whether books can shape lives It’s no secret that millions of American teenagers, caught up in social media, television, movies, and games, don’t read seriously—they associate sustained reading with duty or work, not with pleasure. This indifference has become a grievous loss to our standing as a great nation—and a personal loss, too, for millions of teenagers who may turn into adults with limited understanding of themselves and the world. Can teenagers be turned on to serious reading? What kind of teachers can do it, and what books? To find out, Denby sat in on a tenth-grade English class in a demanding New York public school for an entire academic year, and made frequent visits to a troubled inner-city public school in New Haven and to a respected public school in Westchester county. He read all the stories, poems, plays, and novels that the kids were reading, and creates an impassioned portrait of charismatic teachers at work, classroom dramas large and small, and fresh and inspiring encounters with the books themselves, including The Scarlet Letter, Brave New World, 1984, Slaughterhouse-Five, Notes from Underground, Long Way Gone and many more. Lit Up is a dramatic narrative that traces awkward and baffled beginnings but also exciting breakthroughs and the emergence of pleasure in reading. In a sea of bad news about education and the fate of the book, Denby reaffirms the power of great teachers and the importance and inspiration of great books.

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    Lit Up

    10.3 hrs • 2/2/16
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  4. 5.6 hrs • 10/6/2015 • Unabridged

    Locked in the silence and darkness of your skull, your brain fashions the rich narratives of your reality and your identity. Join renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman for a journey into the questions at the mysterious heart of our existence. What is reality? Who are “you”? How do you make decisions? Why does your brain need other people? How is technology poised to change what it means to be human? In the course of his investigations, Eagleman guides us through the world of extreme sports, criminal justice, facial expressions, genocide, brain surgery, gut feelings, robotics, and the search for immortality. Strap in for a whistle-stop tour into the inner cosmos. In the infinitely dense tangle of billions of brain cells and their trillions of connections, something emerges that you might not have expected to see in there: you. This is the story of how your life shapes your brain, and how your brain shapes your life.

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    The Brain

    5.6 hrs • 10/6/15 • Unabridged
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  5. 15.0 hrs • 10/6/2015 • Unabridged

    As the world becomes ever more dominated by technology, John Brockman’s latest addition to the acclaimed and bestselling Edge Question series asks more than 175 leading scientists, philosophers, and artists: What do you think about machines that think? The development of artificial intelligence has been a source of fascination and anxiety ever since Alan Turing formalized the concept in 1950. Today, Stephen Hawking believes that AI “could spell the end of the human race.” At the very least, its development raises complicated moral issues with powerful real-world implications—for us and for our machines. In this volume, recording artist Brian Eno proposes that we’re already part of an AI: global civilization, or what TED curator Chris Anderson elsewhere calls the hive mind. And author Pamela McCorduck considers what drives us to pursue AI in the first place. On the existential threat posed by superintelligent machines, Steven Pinker questions the likelihood of a robot uprising. Douglas Coupland traces discomfort with human-programmed AI to deeper fears about what constitutes “humanness.” Martin Rees predicts the end of organic thinking, while Daniel C. Dennett explains why he believes the Singularity might be an urban legend. Provocative, enriching, and accessible, What to Think about Machines That Think may just be a practical guide to the not-so-distant future.

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    What to Think about Machines That Think

    Edited by John Brockman
    15.0 hrs • 10/6/15 • Unabridged
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  6. 5.6 hrs • 8/28/2015 • Unabridged

    Adults who want to learn a foreign language are often discouraged because they believe they cannot acquire a language as easily as children. Once they begin to learn a language, students may be further discouraged when they find the methods used to teach children don’t seem to work for them. What is an adult language learner to do? In Becoming Fluent, Richard Roberts and Roger Kreuz draw on insights from psychology and cognitive science to show that adults can master a foreign language if they bring to bear the skills and knowledge they have honed over a lifetime. Adults shouldn’t try to learn as children do; they should learn like adults. Roberts and Kreuz report evidence that adults can learn new languages even more easily than children. Children appear to have only two advantages over adults in learning a language: they acquire a native accent more easily, and they do not suffer from self-defeating anxiety about learning a language. Adults, on the other hand, have the greater advantages—gained from experience—of an understanding of their own mental processes and knowing how to use language to do things. Adults have an especially advantageous grasp of pragmatics, the social use of language, and Roberts and Kreuz show how to leverage this metalinguistic ability in learning a new language. Learning a language takes effort. But if adult learners apply the tools acquired over a lifetime, it can be enjoyable and rewarding.

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    Becoming Fluent by Richard Roberts, Roger Kreuz

    Becoming Fluent

    5.6 hrs • 8/28/15 • Unabridged
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  7. 0 reviews 0 5 4 4 out of 5 stars 4/5
    9.5 hrs • 8/4/2015 • Unabridged

    In the tradition of Oliver Sacks, a tour of the latest neuroscience of schizophrenia, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, ecstatic epilepsy, Cotard’s syndrome, out-of-body experiences, and other disorders—revealing the awesome power of the human sense of self from a master of science journalismAnil Ananthaswamy’s extensive in-depth interviews venture into the lives of individuals who offer perspectives that will change how you think about who you are. These individuals all lost some part of what we think of as our self, but they then offer remarkable, sometimes heart-wrenching insights into what remains. One man cut off his own leg. Another became one with the universe.We are learning about the self at a level of detail that Descartes (“I think therefore I am”) could never have imagined. Recent research into Alzheimer’s illuminates how memory creates your narrative self by using the same part of your brain for your past as for your future. But wait, those afflicted with Cotard’s syndrome think they are already dead; in a way, they believe that “I think therefore I am not.” Who—or what—can say that? Neuroscience has identified specific regions of the brain that, when they misfire, can cause the self to move back and forth between the body and a doppelgänger, or to leave the body entirely. So where in the brain, or mind, or body, is the self actually located? As Ananthaswamy elegantly reports, neuroscientists themselves now see that the elusive sense of self is both everywhere and nowhere in the human brain.

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    The Man Who Wasn’t There

    9.5 hrs • 8/4/15 • Unabridged
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    11.9 hrs • 4/28/2015 • Unabridged

    An impassioned, tender, and joyous memoir by the author of Musicophilia and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat When Oliver Sacks was twelve years old, a perceptive schoolmaster wrote in his report, “Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far.” It is now abundantly clear that Sacks has never stopped going. From its opening pages on his youthful obsession with motorcycles and speed, On the Move is infused with his restless energy. As he recounts his experiences as a young neurologist in the early 1960s, first in California, where he struggled with drug addiction, and then in New York, where he discovered a long-forgotten illness in the back wards of a chronic hospital, we see how his engagement with patients comes to define his life. With unbridled honesty and humor, Sacks shows us that the same energy that drives his physical passions—weight lifting and swimming—also drives his cerebral passions. He writes about his love affairs, both romantic and intellectual; his guilt over leaving his family to come to America; his bond with his schizophrenic brother; and the writers and scientists—Thom Gunn, A. R. Luria, W. H. Auden, Gerald M. Edelman, Francis Crick—who influenced him. On the Move is the story of a brilliantly unconventional physician and writer—and of the man who has illuminated the many ways in which the brain makes us human.

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    On the Move

    11.9 hrs • 4/28/15 • Unabridged
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  9. 6.5 hrs • 4/7/2015 • Unabridged

    In a book perfect for readers of Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, David Eagleman’s Incognito, and Leonard Mlodinow’s Subliminal, the cognitive neuroscientists who discovered how the brain has “aha”  moments—sudden creative insights—explain how they happen, when we need them, and how we can have more of them to enrich our lives and empower personal and professional success. “Eureka” or “aha”  moments are sudden realizations that expand our understanding of the world and ourselves, conferring both personal growth and practical advantage. Such creative insights, as psychological scientists call them, were what conveyed an important discovery in the science of genetics to Nobel laureate Barbara McClintock, the melody of a Beatles ballad to Paul McCartney, and an understanding of the cause of human suffering to the Buddha. But these moments of clarity are not given only to the famous. Anyone can have them. In The Eureka Factor, John Kounios and Mark Beeman explain how insights arise and what the scientific research says about stimulating more of them. They discuss how various conditions affect the likelihood of your having an insight, when insight is helpful and when deliberate methodical thought is better suited to a task, what the relationship is between insight and intuition, and how the brain’s right hemisphere contributes to creative thought. Written in a lively, engaging style, this book goes beyond scientific principles to offer productive techniques for realizing your creative potential—at home and at work. The authors provide compelling anecdotes to illustrate how eureka experiences can be a key factor in your life. Attend a dinner party with Christopher Columbus to learn why we need insights. Go to a baseball game with the director of a classic Disney Pixar movie to learn about one important type of aha moment. Observe the behind-the-scenes arrangements for an Elvis Presley concert to learn why the timing of insights makes them difficult to use but crucial to study. Accessible and compelling, The Eureka Factor is a fascinating look at the human brain and its seemingly infinite capacity to surprise us.

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    The Eureka Factor 

    6.5 hrs • 4/7/15 • Unabridged
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  10. 9.2 hrs • 12/30/2015 • Unabridged

    Distinguished authors like Daniel Kahneman, Dan Ariely, and Nassim Nicholas Taleb have written much about the flaws in the human brain when it comes time to make a decision. Our intuitions and passions frequently fail us, leading to outcomes we don’t want. In this book, Eyal Winter, professor of economics and director of the Center for the Study of Rationality at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, wonders why. If our emotions are so destructive and unreliable, why has evolution left us with them? The answer is that, even though they may not behave in a purely logical manner, our emotions frequently lead us to better, safer, more optimal outcomes. In fact, as Winter discovers, there is often logic in emotion and emotion in logic. For instance, many mutually beneficial commitments—such as marriage or being a member of a team—are only possible when underscored by emotion rather than deliberate thought. The difference between pleasurable music and bad noise is mathematically precise, yet it is also the result of evolution. And our inherent overconfidence—the mathematically impossible fact that most people see themselves as above average—affords us advantages in competing for things we benefit from, like food and money and romance. Other subjects illuminated in the book include the rationality of seemingly illogical feelings like trust, anger, shame, ego, and generosity. Already a bestseller in Israel, Feeling Smart brings together game theory, evolution, and behavioral science to produce a surprising and very persuasive defense of how we think, even when we don’t.

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    Feeling Smart by Eyal Winter

    Feeling Smart

    9.2 hrs • 12/30/14 • Unabridged
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  11. 7.9 hrs • 9/23/2014 • Unabridged

    Renowned psychologist Walter Mischel, designer of the famous Marshmallow Test, explains what self-control is and how to master it. A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later. What will she do? And what are the implications for her behavior later in life? The world’s leading expert on self-control, Walter Mischel has proven that the ability to delay gratification is critical for a successful life, predicting higher SAT scores, better social and cognitive functioning, a healthier lifestyle, and a greater sense of self-worth. But is willpower prewired, or can it be taught? In The Marshmallow Test, Mischel explains how self-control can be mastered and applied to challenges in everyday life—from weight control to quitting smoking, overcoming heartbreak, making major decisions, and planning for retirement. With profound implications for the choices we make in parenting, education, public policy and self-care, The Marshmallow Test will change the way you think about who we are and what we can be.

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    The Marshmallow Test

    7.9 hrs • 9/23/14 • Unabridged
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  12. 8.0 hrs • 8/5/2014 • Unabridged

    Most of us have no idea what’s really going on inside our heads. Yet brain scientists have uncovered details every business leader, parent, and teacher should know—like the need for physical activity to get your brain working at its best. How do we learn? What exactly do sleep and stress do to our brains? Why is multitasking a myth? Why is it so easy to forget—and so important to repeat new knowledge? Is it true that men and women have different brains? In Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina, a molecular biologist, shares his lifelong interest in how the brain sciences might influence the way we teach our children and the way we work. In each chapter, he describes a brain rule—what scientists know for sure about how our brains work—and then offers transformative ideas for our daily lives. Medina’s fascinating stories and infectious sense of humor breathe life into brain science. You’ll learn why Michael Jordan was no good at baseball, you’ll peer over a surgeon’s shoulder as he proves that most of us have a Jennifer Aniston neuron, and you’ll meet a boy who has an amazing memory for music but can’t tie his own shoes. In Brain Rules, you will discover how:every brain is wired differently;exercise improves cognition;we are designed to never stop learning and exploring;memories are volatile;sleep is powerfully linked with the ability to learn;vision trumps all of the other senses;stress changes the way we learn. In the end, you will understand how your brain really works—and how to get the most out of it.

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    Brain Rules (Updated and Expanded)

    8.0 hrs • 8/5/14 • Unabridged
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  13. 9.4 hrs • 8/5/2014 • Unabridged

    What’s the single most important thing you can do during pregnancy? What does watching television do to a child’s brain? What’s the best way to handle temper tantrums? Scientists know. In his New York Times bestseller Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina showed us how our brains really work—and why we ought to redesign our workplaces and schools. Now, in Brain Rules for Baby, he shares what the latest science says about how to raise smart and happy children from zero to five years old. This book is destined to revolutionize parenting.  Brain Rules for Baby bridges the gap between what scientists know and what parents practice. Through fascinating and funny stories, Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and dad, unravels how a child’s brain develops—and what you can do to optimize it. You will view your children—and how to raise them—in a whole new light. You’ll learn:where nature ends and nurture begins;why men should do more household chores;what you do when emotions run hot affects how your baby behaves;television is harmful for children under two years of age;your child’s ability to relate to others predicts his/her future math performance;“smart” and “happy” are inseparable, and pursuing your child’s intellectual success at the expense of his/her happiness achieves neither;praising effort is better than praising intelligence;the best predictor of academic performance is not IQ but self-control. What you do right now—before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and through the first five years—will affect your children for the rest of their lives. Brain Rules for Baby is an indispensable guide.

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    Brain Rules for Baby (Updated and Expanded)

    9.4 hrs • 8/5/14 • Unabridged
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  14. 0 reviews 0 5 4 4 out of 5 stars 4/5
    8.9 hrs • 3/4/2014 • Unabridged

    A deeply original exploration of the power of spontaneity—an ancient Chinese ideal that cognitive scientists are only now beginning to understand—and why it is so essential to our well-being Why is it always hard to fall asleep the night before an important meeting? Or be charming and relaxed on a first date? What is it about a politician who seems wooden or a comedian whose jokes fall flat or an athlete who chokes? In all of these cases, striving seems to backfire.  In Trying Not To Try, Edward Slingerland explains why we find spontaneity so elusive, and shows how early Chinese thought points the way to happier, more authentic lives. We’ve long been told that the way to achieve our goals is through careful reasoning and conscious effort. But recent research suggests that many aspects of a satisfying life, like happiness and spontaneity, are best pursued indirectly. The early Chinese philosophers knew this, and they wrote extensively about an effortless way of being in the world, which they called wu-wei (ooo-way). They believed it was the source of all success in life, and they developed various strategies for getting it and hanging on to it.  With clarity and wit, Slingerland introduces us to these thinkers and the marvelous characters in their texts, from the butcher whose blade glides effortlessly through an ox to the wood carver who sees his sculpture simply emerge from a solid block. Slingerland uncovers a direct line from wu-wei to the Force in Star Wars, explains why wu-wei is more powerful than flow, and tells us what it all means for getting a date. He also shows how new research reveals what’s happening in the brain when we’re in a state of wu-wei—why it makes us happy and effective and trustworthy, and how it might have even made civilization possible.  Through stories of mythical creatures and drunken cart riders, jazz musicians and Japanese motorcycle gangs, Slingerland effortlessly blends Eastern thought and cutting-edge science to show us how we can live more fulfilling lives. Trying Not To Try is mind-expanding and deeply pleasurable, the perfect antidote to our striving American culture.

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    Trying Not to Try

    8.9 hrs • 3/4/14 • Unabridged
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  15. 15.7 hrs • 2/25/2014 • Unabridged

    The New York Times bestselling author of Physics of the Impossible tackles the most fascinating and complex object in the known universe: the human brain. For the first time in history, the secrets of the living brain are being revealed by a battery of high tech brain scans devised by physicists. Now what was once solely the province of science fiction has become a startling reality. Recording memories, telepathy, videotaping our dreams, mind control, avatars, and telekinesis are not only possible; they already exist. The Future of the Mind gives us an authoritative and compelling look at the astonishing research being done in top laboratories around the world—all based on the latest advancements in neuroscience and physics. One day we might have a “smart pill” that can enhance our cognition; be able to upload our brain to a computer, neuron for neuron; send thoughts and emotions around the world on a “brain-net”; control computers and robots with our mind; push the very limits of immortality; and perhaps even send our consciousness across the universe. Dr. Kaku takes us on a grand tour of what the future might hold, giving us not only a solid sense of how the brain functions but also how these technologies will change our daily lives. He even presents a radically new way to think about “consciousness” and applies it to provide fresh insight into mental illness, artificial intelligence and alien consciousness. With Dr. Kaku’s deep understanding of modern science and keen eye for future developments, The Future of the Mind is a scientific tour de force—an extraordinary, mind-boggling exploration of the frontiers of neuroscience.

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    The Future of the Mind

    15.7 hrs • 2/25/14 • Unabridged
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  16. 13.9 hrs • 2/19/2014 • Unabridged

    John Brockman, editor of This Will Make You Smarter, presents his latest thought-provoking book, featuring insights from leading thinkers such as Steven Pinker, Lisa Randall, Matt Ridley, and Daniel C. Dennett.

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    What Should We Be Worried About?

    13.9 hrs • 2/19/14 • Unabridged
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