If the conscious mind – the part you consider you – is just the tip of the iceberg, what is the rest doing? In this sparkling and provocative new book, renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman navigates the depths of the subconscious brain to illuminate surprising mysteries: Why can your foot move halfway to the brake pedal before you become consciously aware of danger ahead? Why do you notice when your name is mentioned in a conversation that you didn't think you were listening to? What do Ulysses and the credit crunch have in common? Why did Thomas Edison electrocute an elephant in 1916? Why are people whose name begins with J more likely to marry other people whose name begins with J? Why is it so difficult to keep a secret? And how is it possible to get angry at yourself – who, exactly, is mad at whom? Taking in brain damage, plane spotting, dating, drugs, beauty, infidelity, synaesthesia, criminal law, artificial intelligence and visual illusions, Incognito is a thrilling subsurface exploration of the mind and all its contradictions.
David Eagleman is a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine, where he directs the Laboratory for Perception and Actions as well as the Initiative on Neuroscience and Law. His scientific research is published in journals from Science to Nature, and his neuroscience books include Live-Wired: The Shapeshifting Plasticity of the Brain and Wednesday Is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia. He is also the author if an internationally bestselling book of fiction, Sum: Tales from the Afterlives.
"The Malcolm Gladwell of brain science"
"[An] entertaining and truly brainy front-line report from the neuroscience labs [...] I guarantee it'll change the way you think of yourself"
– Mail on Sunday
"Incognito is a fascinating book that will not so much turn your mind upside down as flip it right-side up. You'll never hear the phase "You don't know what you're doing!" in the same way again"
– Time Out
"Breezy, fun, optimistic and full of the latest research"
– The Sunday Times
"Original and provocative [...] A smart, captivating book that will give you a prefrontal workout"
"A shining example of lucid and easy-to-grasp science writing"
– Independent on Sunday
"I was completely immersed. Eagleman writes well and has brought together great stories from the wild shores of neuroresearch, taking a field that is enormously complex and creating a clear path through it [...] A book that will stay with you"
– Michael Mosley, author of The Fast Diet, BBC Focus
"A fun read by a smart person for smart people [...] It will attract a new generation to ponder their inner workings"
– New Scientist
"Eagleman engagingly sums up recent discoveries about the unconscious processes that dominate our mental life [...] [He] is the kind of guy who really does make being a neuroscientist look like fun"
– New York Times
"A dream to read [...] I couldn't resist telling people about a couple of things I read here"
– Brian Clegg, Popular Science
"A stunning exploration of the we behind the I. Eagleman reveals, with his typical grace and eloquence, all the neural magic tricks behind the cognitive illusion we call reality."
– Jonah Lehrer