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Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain Audiobook, by David Eagleman Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: David Eagleman Narrator: David Eagleman Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2011 ISBN: 9780307934314
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If the conscious mind—the part you consider to be you—is just the tip of the iceberg, what is the rest doing?
In this sparkling and provocative new book, the 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 hear your name being 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 names begin with J more likely to marry other people whose names begin 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, synesthesia, criminal law, artificial intelligence, and visual illusions, Incognito is a thrilling subsurface exploration of the mind and all its contradictions.

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Quotes & Awards

  • 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,  author of How We Decide
  • Eagleman has a talent for testing the untestable, for taking seemingly sophomoric notions and using them to nail down the slippery stuff of consciousness. New Yorker
  • Your mind is an elaborate trick, and mastermind David Eagleman explains how the trick works with great lucidity and amazement. Your mind will thank you. Kevin Kelly, Wired Magazine
  • A fun read by a smart person for smart people…it will attract a new generation to ponder their inner workings. New Scientist
  • “Written in clear, precise language, the book is sure to appeal to readers with an interest in psychology and the human mind, but it will also please people who just want to know, with a little more clarity, what is going on inside their own skulls. Booklist 
  • Original and provocative…Incognito is a smart, captivating book that will give you a prefrontal workout. Nature 
    “Incognito is fun to read, full of neat factoids and clever experiments...Eagleman says he’s looking to do for neuroscience what Carl Sagan did for astrophysics, and he’s already on his way.
  • "Although Incognito is face-paced, mind-bending stuff, it's a book for regular folks. Eagleman does a brilliant job refining heavy science into a compelling read. He is a gifted writer. Houston Chronicle
  • A popularizer of impressive gusto…[Eagleman] aims, grandly, to do for the study of the mind what Copernicus did for the study of the stars. New York Observer 
  • The journey to the heart of neurological darkness is also a kind of safari, and we spend a lot of time taking in the marvelous birds…Incognito proposes a grand new account of the relationship between consciousness and the brain. It is full of dazzling ideas, as it is chockablock with facts and instances. The New York Observer   
  • Incognito does the right thing by diving straight into the deep end and trying to swim. Eagleman, by imagining the future so vividly, puts into relief just how challenging neuroscience is, and will be. Boston Globe 
  • Appealing and persuasive. Wall Street Journal
  • Eagleman has a nice way with anecdotes and explanations…delightful. The Observer’s Very Short List
  • Eagleman presents difficult neuroscience concepts in an energetic, casual voice with plenty of analogies and examples to ensure that what could easily be an overwhelming catalog of facts remains engaging and accessible…the ideas in Eagleman’s book are well-articulated and entertaining, elucidated with the intelligent, casual tone of an enthusiastic university lecturer. The Millions
  • A fascinating, dynamic, faceted look under the hood of the conscious mind...Equal parts entertaining and illuminating, the case studies, examples and insights in Incognito are more than mere talking points to impressed at the next dinner party, poised instead to radically shift your understanding of the world, other people, and your own mind. Brain Pickings
  • Eagleman engagingly sums up recent discoveries about the unconscious processes that dominate our mental life. The New York Times Book Review 
  • Fascinating…Eagleman has the ability to turn hard science and jargon into interesting and relatable prose, illuminating the mind’s processes with clever analogies and metaphors. Salt Lake City Weekly
  • A great beach read.“ –Philadelphia City Paper
  • One of those books that could change everything. Sam Snyder, blog
  • Eagleman embodies what is fascinating, fun, and hopeful about modern neuroscience.  
  • Buy this book. The pithy observations, breezy language and wow-inducing anecdotes provide temporary pleasure, but the book’s real strength is in its staying power.“ –Science News
  • A pleasure to read…If a reader is looking for a fun but illuminating read, Incognito is a good choice. With its nice balance between hard science and entertaining anecdotes, it is a good alternative to the usual brainless summer blockbusters. Deseret News
  • Funny, gripping and often shocking…Eagleman writes great sentences of the sort that you might be inclined to read to those in your general vicinity.
  • Incognito reads like a series of fascinating vignettes, offering plenty of pauses for self-reflection. Eagleman’s anecdotes are funny and easily tie to the concepts he explains. Moreover, his enthusiasm for the subject is obvious and contagious. Spectrum Culture
  • Incognito is popular science at its best…beautifully synthesized. Boston Globe Best of 2011
  • Sparkling and provocative…a thrilling subsurface exploration of the mind and all its contradictions. Louisville Courier-Journal  
  • Startling…It’s a book that will leave you looking at yourself—and the world—differently. Austin American Statesman
  • Touches on some of the more intriguing cul-de-sacs of human behavior.“ –Santa Cruz Sentinel
  • After you read Eagleman’s breezy treatment of the brain, you will marvel at how much is illusory that we think is real, and how we sometimes function out autopilot without consciously knowing what is happening…This is a fascinating book. The Advocate
  • A whirlwind, high-definition look at the neural underpinnings of our everyday thinking and perception…fascinating.
  • Incognito feels like learning the secrets of a magician. In clear prose, Eagleman condenses complex concepts and reinforces his points through analogies, pop culture, current events, optical illusions, anecdotes, and fun facts. Frontier Psychiatrist

Listener Reviews

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  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Uzma | 2/18/2014

    " very interesting at the beginning. later he goes on to try using his findings for social justice and criminal law, which is ok by itself but doesn't fit too well with the main idea of the book, which is (or should be) about what the brain does unconsciously. I wish, rather, that he'd put more time into the science, maybe tied it together a little more. 'twas fun, though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deirdre | 2/14/2014

    " fascinating, thought provoking and very readable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa | 2/12/2014

    " I am torn by this book. On one hand it was a fun read. But it lacks some of the mental challenge that I enjoy in a book of popular science. I enjoy a little more depth to the explanations of research. Did he do any of the research or was he borrowing and cribbing from real researchers? I lean toward the second. If you have a lay person's interest in neurology and the workings of the mind, much of the first 4-5 chapters is nothing you haven't read before. Interesting condition upon interesting condition is quickly discussed for the "oooh" and "aaaah" factor. Chapter six has a mad, voice-crying-out-in-the-desert quality. It reads something like, "Why doesn't anyone listen to me? I have the answers that will solve the world's problems with crime and ciminals!" Frankly, it can get more than a little redundant and tedious in that section. Still, I can't completely trash the book. Though it wasn't as scientific as I prefer, it was a fun quick read about the brain, its functions and malfunctions. Perhaps I've read too much popular neurology for this to be fresh for me. If you haven't read that much you might enjoy it greatly. It could spur greater interest in the field. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Juanita | 1/29/2014

    " A brilliant exploration of our brains, what we are and where our behaviour comes from. It is an enjoyable reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tfalcone | 1/11/2014

    " Fascinating so far. How does the mind interpret the outer world. Alternate ways of seeing - like with your tongue. Lost ots zest toward the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angela | 12/31/2013

    " Fascinating, thought-provoking book about the subconscious processes going on in our brain and the impacts that has on our behavior. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Yogodot | 12/30/2013

    " This is the best book on the subject of brain science and free will that I have ever read. All arguments are convincingly presented, and a new paradigm is previewed. Eagleman has risen to the top with this publication. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cheryl | 12/1/2013

    " Fascinating book and well worth the time. The brain is sooooo amazing and complex. "As the quip goes: If our brains were simple enough to be understood, we wouldn't be smart enough to understand them." Incognito by David Eagleman. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steven | 3/25/2013

    " Amazing scientific proof of the deep unconscious brain and the nature of our brain, which exists largely as an automated multiplicity "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lindsey | 11/6/2012

    " This book pretty much blew my mind. I highly recommend. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 9/8/2012

    " There were some really interesting parts in this book and some, well, not so much. If you have an interest in the brain and how it works you'll probably like this book. It has interesting examples too. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mikey | 8/7/2012

    " A interesting read. Somehow I had managed to hear most of the experimental data before from podcasts and other brain books. All the new data was fascinating. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pamela | 7/7/2012

    " Really interesting discussion of the brain, of who we are: nurture v nature, free will v chemical reactions, a team of rivals working in our brains. Good questions are posed. I am intrigued. I read it quickly and may reread with additional contemplation. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Doug | 6/26/2012

    " Fascinating book. Puts complex concepts into easily understood language. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tim | 10/24/2011

    " Fascinating read so far! Finished. A very good read, but not as amazing as I would have liked. Still, definitely worth the time to understand where brain science is and is heading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patricia | 6/25/2011

    " Very well written and easy explanation of the neuropsychological underlying addition, decision-making and how we think we understand why we do things and how we are wrong. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mat | 6/21/2011

    " This book is awesome -- basically brings epistemology up to date with the latest in neuroscience. If you want to know more about how your mind works (and be pretty surprised by what you learn), read this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steve | 6/19/2011

    " This was an amazing book up until the final two chapters. It would've easily garnered a 5-star rating if I had stopped reading before it went downhill. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Osen | 6/15/2011

    " Another fantastic book from David Eagleman. I absouletly adore his thought provoking ideas he uses his years of experiments and brings hundred of cases make the reader think. If you are enjoying popular science this is the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tony | 6/15/2011

    " I love books like this. They give you an insight into the unconscious mind. There's a whole lot more going on up in our heads than we realize. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mark | 6/6/2011

    " Good review of this stuff. One of those books with optical illusions that explains why you are little better than a monkey with pants on, and have no free will. The author's interviews on the BBC's Start the Week were quite good, also - available as a podcast. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shawn | 5/31/2011

    " Actually a quick read, when you have the time. Fascinating look at everything the brain does that we're not aware of, laid out in language anyone can grasp. I enjoyed it immensely. "