Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “neuroscience”

Fofo’s #CBR4 Review #30: Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson

Target: Steven Johnson’s Everything Bad is Good for You

Profile: Non-fiction, Sociology, Neuroscience

I added Everything Bad to my reading list shortly after finishing Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death.  I was looking for a counterpoint to Postman’s arguments and the internet was fairly aggressive in promoting the dichotomy between the two books.  In practice, that comparison doesn’t really hold up, in spite of Johnson’s insistence that it does.  But where Postman has centuries of history and sociological evidence to back up his ideas, Jonson has a handful of examples from the top half of the 2000s, and a mountain of conjecture.

Steven Johnson’s core concept is the ‘Sleeper Curve,’ a theory which posits that there are significant  cognitive benefits to our increasingly complex popular culture.  Johnson never formally defines the Sleeper Curve anywhere in the book, but the general shape of the theory is fairly obvious.  Everything Bad primarily wants to prove that we are getting smarter because our media is getting more complex and deeper.  The book is split into three sections: first, contrasting historical television programing and computer gaming with the present entertainment markets; second, providing scientific evidence that we are getting smarter; and finally, a shorter section addressing the content versus raw complexity issue.

Read the rest of the review…

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #39: Mirroring People by Marco Iacoboni

Title: Mirroring People
Author: Marco Iacoboni
Source: library
Fun Fact: People who think about rabid soccer fans before general knowledge tests do worse than a control group, while people who think about professors before the test do better than the controls.
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Summary: Wow – this is some incredibly interesting and well explained research. I’d highly recommend this to pretty much anyone.

Mirror neurons are the part of our brain which allow is to interpret other’s emotions, predict their intentions when they begin an action, and probably enable our ability to communicate using language. In Mirroring People, Marco Iacoboni explains clearly and intelligently the cutting edge research on this fascinating part of our brain – research with which he was intimately involved. The basic premise of this work is that we use the same neurons to preform an action and when we watch other people perform an action. This lets us put ourselves in their shoes to better understand what they’re doing and why.

Read more at Doing Dewey.

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