Cover image for Your Brain: The Missing Manual

Book description

Puzzles and brain twisters to keep your mind sharp and your memory intact are all the rage today. More and more people -- Baby Boomers and information workers in particular -- are becoming concerned about their gray matter's ability to function, and with good reason. As this sensible and entertaining guide points out, your brain is easily your most important possession. It deserves proper upkeep.

Your Brain: The Missing Manual is a practical look at how to get the most out of your brain -- not just how the brain works, but how you can use it more effectively. What makes this book different than the average self-help guide is that it's grounded in current neuroscience. You get a quick tour of several aspects of the brain, complete with useful advice about:

  • Brain Food: The right fuel for the brain and how the brain commands hunger (including an explanation of the different chemicals that control appetite and cravings)

  • Sleep: The sleep cycle and circadian rhythm, and how to get a good night's sleep (or do the best you can without it)

  • Memory: Techniques for improving your recall

  • Reason: Learning to defeat common sense; logical fallacies (including tactics for winning arguments); and good reasons for bad prejudices

  • Creativity and Problem-Solving: Brainstorming tips and thinking not outside the box, but about the box -- in other words, find the assumptions that limit your ideas so you can break through them

  • Understanding Other People's Brains: The battle of the sexes and babies developing brains

Learn about the built-in circuitry that makes office politics seem like a life-or-death struggle, causes you to toss important facts out of your memory if they're not emotionally charged, and encourages you to eat huge amounts of high-calorie snacks. With Your Brain: The Missing Manual you'll discover that, sometimes, you can learn to compensate for your brain or work around its limitations -- or at least to accept its eccentricities.

Exploring your brain is the greatest adventure and biggest mystery you'll ever face. This guide has exactly the advice you need.

Table of Contents

  1. Your Brain: The Missing Manual
    1. SPECIAL OFFER: Upgrade this ebook with O’Reilly
    2. A Note Regarding Supplemental Files
    3. The Missing Credits
      1. About the Author
      2. About the Creative Team
      3. Acknowledgements
      4. The Missing Manual Series
    4. Introduction
      1. About This Book
        1. About the Outline
        2. Separating Truth from Speculation
        3. About MissingManuals.com
        4. Safari® Books Online
    5. I. Warming Up
      1. 1. A Lap Around the Brain
        1. A First Look at Your Brain
        2. The Brain: An Archeological Site
          1. The Outer Wrapper
          2. The Middle Ground
          3. The Basement
          4. The History of the Brain
          5. Ancient Brain, Modern World
        3. The Brain's Wiring
          1. Neurons
          2. Synapses
          3. The Nervous System
          4. The Endocrine System
          5. The Pituitary Gland
        4. Mental Fitness
      2. 2. Brain Food: Healthy Eating
        1. The Brain's Energy Use
        2. Brain Fuel
          1. Raw Sugar at Work
          2. The Sugar Rush Myth
          3. Complex Carbohydrates: The Ultimate Time-Release Pill
        3. A Brain-Friendly Diet
          1. Meal Sizes
          2. Meal Timing
        4. The Secret Gears of Appetite
          1. Ghrelin and Leptin
          2. Your Anti-Starvation System
          3. The Set Point Trap
          4. Emotional Eating
      3. 3. Sleep: Taking Your Brain Offline
        1. Your Biological Clock
          1. The Circadian Rhythm
          2. The Perfect Day: 24 or 25 Hours?
        2. Why We Sleep
          1. Sleep in the Animal Kingdom
          2. Sleep in Humans
          3. Long-Term Sleep Deprivation
          4. Short-Term Sleep Deprivation
        3. The Sleep Cycle
          1. Sleep Through the Ages
        4. REM Sleep
          1. How Sleep Boosts Learning
          2. How Sleep Manages Emotions
        5. Dream Analysis
          1. The Content of Dreams
          2. Keeping a Dream Journal
    6. II. Exploring Your Brain
      1. 4. Perception
        1. The Doors of Perception
        2. Optical Illusions
        3. Your Shifty Eyes
          1. Keeping Focused
        4. Distortions and Mismeasurements
          1. Faulty Comparisons
          2. Color Confusion
          3. The 3-D World
        5. Seeing Things
          1. Making Something out of Nothing
        6. Ignoring Things
        7. Other Perception-Distorting Assumptions
        8. Dizzy Yourself Silly with Optical Illusions on the Web
      2. 5. Memory
        1. The Remembrance of Things Past
        2. Short-Term Memory
          1. Chunking
        3. Long-Term Memory
          1. How Memories Are Stored
          2. The Man Who Couldn't Remember
          3. The Reconstruction of Remembering
            1. Leading questions shape memories
            2. People incorporate new "information" into old memories.
            3. People remember "facts" more readily than sources
            4. Rehearsal turns suggestions into memories
            5. Memories are influenced by mood
            6. People distort memories to fit the concepts they know
            7. Easier to understand means easier to remember
          4. Why We Forget
          5. The Man Who Couldn't Forget
        4. Techniques for Better Remembering
          1. Paying Attention
          2. Repetition
          3. The Method of Loci
          4. Stories
          5. Word Games
          6. Codes
          7. Indexing Memories with Pegs
          8. Journals, Pictures, and Other Memory Aids
          9. Gimmicks
        5. Better Learning
      3. 6. Emotions
        1. Understanding Emotion
          1. Your Built-in Emotional Programming
          2. What an Emotion Feels Like
          3. How the Brain Assesses Emotions
        2. Pleasure: The Reward System
          1. Running out of Pleasure
          2. Motivation
          3. Cheating the Reward System
        3. Fear: Avoiding Death
          1. The Fight or Flight Response
          2. Emotional Memories
        4. Stress
          1. The Effects of Stress
          2. Conquering Stress
        5. In Search of Happiness
          1. The Set Point Theory
          2. How to Accept Your Happiness Set Point
          3. Looking Forward and Looking Back
          4. Responding to Good and Bad
      4. 7. Reason
        1. The Thinking Brain
          1. The Prefrontal Cortex
        2. Common Sense
          1. Anchoring
          2. Conservatism
          3. The Mere Exposure Effect
          4. Grouping
        3. Moral Calculus
        4. Statistical Blunders
          1. Small Samples
          2. Selection Bias
          3. Regression to the Mean
          4. Probability
          5. Random Events and Games of Chance
        5. Critical Thinking
          1. Accepting Uncertainty
          2. Overcoming Bias
          3. Baloney Detection
          4. Winning Arguments with Logical Fallacies
            1. Use value-laden words
            2. Attack the arguer instead of the argument
            3. Argue from authority
            4. Distort the opposing view
            5. Shift the goalposts
            6. Present a false choice
            7. Criticize the consequences of a belief
            8. Use circular logic
        6. Problem Solving
        7. Creative Thinking Tools
          1. The Art of Provocation
          2. Solve the Opposite Problem
          3. Prompt Ideas with SCAMPER
          4. The Six Thinking Hats
      5. 8. Your Personality
        1. The Building Blocks of Personality
          1. How Realistic Is the Five Factor Model?
        2. A Personality Test
          1. Scoring the Test
        3. Dissecting Your Personality
          1. Extraversion
          2. Accommodation
          3. Conscientiousness
          4. Neuroticism
          5. Openness
        4. The Personality Fit
          1. Career Testing
          2. Flow
    7. III. Understanding Other People's Brains
      1. 9. The Battle of the Sexes
        1. Gender in the Brain
          1. Sex and DNA
          2. The Y Chromosome
          3. Sex Hormones
          4. Male Brains and Female Brains
        2. Are Gender Differences Real?
          1. Gender Myths
          2. Studying Young Children
          3. Studying Wrongly Sexed People
          4. The Statistical Picture
        3. Love and Relationships
          1. The Love Effect
          2. The Timeline of Love
          3. Bonding
          4. The Habits of Highly Successful Relationships
      2. 10. The Developing Brain
        1. Before Birth
        2. Childhood
          1. Wiring the Brain
          2. Critical Periods
          3. Baby Myths
        3. The Teenage Years
          1. Parenting a Teenage Brain
        4. Old Age
          1. Alzheimer's: The Nun Study
        5. Nature vs. Nurture
          1. Heritability
          2. Family Studies
          3. Nature: Your Genes
          4. Nurture: Your Environment
          5. The Interaction Between Genes and Environment
    8. Index
    9. About the Author
    10. SPECIAL OFFER: Upgrade this ebook with O’Reilly