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Archive for 'mind'

currently $0.99 kindle ebook – ‘A Guide to the Present Moment’ by Noah Elkrief

July 18, 2014

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early kindle release – ‘The Bilingual Mind: And What It Tells Us About Language and Thought’ by Aneta Pavlenko

January 20, 2014

The Bilingual Mind

The Bilingual Mind: And What It Tells Us About Language and Thought by Aneta Pavlenko (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

(paperback – 2/28/14), (UK kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk – paperback ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

If languages influence the way we think, do bilinguals think differently in their respective languages? And if languages do not affect thought, why do bilinguals often perceive such influence? For many years these questions remained unanswered because the research on language and thought had focused solely on the monolingual mind. Bilinguals were either excluded from this research as ‘unusual’ or ‘messy’ subjects, or treated as representative speakers of their first languages. Only recently did bi- and multilinguals become research participants in their own right. Pavlenko considers the socio-political circumstances that led to the monolingual status quo and shows how the invisibility of bilingual participants compromised the validity and reliability of findings in the study of language and cognition. She then shifts attention to the bilingual turn in the field and examines its contributions to the understanding of the human mind.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s webpages

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new book – ‘More than Nature Needs: Language, Mind, and Evolution’ by Derek Bickerton

December 9, 2013

More Than Nature Needs

More than Nature Needs: Language, Mind, and Evolution by Derek Bickerton (Harvard University Press, 2013)

(amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

The human mind is an unlikely evolutionary adaptation. How did humans acquire cognitive capacities far more powerful than anything a hunting-and-gathering primate needed to survive? Alfred Russel Wallace, co-founder with Darwin of evolutionary theory, saw humans as “divine exceptions” to natural selection. Darwin thought use of language might have shaped our sophisticated brains, but his hypothesis remained an intriguing guess–until now. Combining state-of-the-art research with forty years of writing and thinking about language evolution, Derek Bickerton convincingly resolves a crucial problem that both biology and the cognitive sciences have hitherto ignored or evaded.

What evolved first was neither language nor intelligence–merely normal animal communication plus displacement. That was enough to break restrictions on both thought and communication that bound all other animals. The brain self-organized to store and automatically process its new input, words. But words, which are inextricably linked to the concepts they represent, had to be accessible to consciousness. The inevitable consequence was a cognitive engine able to voluntarily merge both thoughts and words into meaningful combinations. Only in a third phase could language emerge, as humans began to tinker with a medium that, when used for communication, was adequate for speakers but suboptimal for hearers.

Starting from humankind’s remotest past, More than Nature Needs transcends nativist thesis and empiricist antithesis by presenting a revolutionary synthesis–one that instead of merely repeating “nature and nurture” clichés shows specifically and in a principled manner how and why the synthesis came about.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author at Academia.edu – “How ‘More Than Nature Needs’ Changes the Linguistic and Cognitive Landscape: A Study Guide”

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new book – ‘The Gap: The Science of What Separates Us from Other Animals’ by Thomas Suddendorf

October 27, 2013

The Gap

The Gap: The Science of What Separates Us from Other Animals by Thomas Suddendorf (Basic Books, 2013)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

There exists an undeniable chasm between the capacities of humans and those of animals. Our minds have spawned civilizations and technologies that have changed the face of the Earth, whereas even our closest animal relatives sit unobtrusively in their dwindling habitats. Yet despite longstanding debates, the nature of this apparent gap has remained unclear. What exactly is the difference between our minds and theirs?

In The Gap, psychologist Thomas Suddendorf provides a definitive account of the mental qualities that separate humans from other animals, as well as how these differences arose. Drawing on two decades of research on apes, children, and human evolution, he surveys the abilities most often cited as uniquely human—language, intelligence, morality, culture, theory of mind, and mental time travel—and finds that two traits account for most of the ways in which our minds appear so distinct: Namely, our open-ended ability to imagine and reflect on scenarios, and our insatiable drive to link our minds together. These two traits explain how our species was able to amplify qualities that we inherited in parallel with our animal counterparts; transforming animal communication into language, memory into mental time travel, sociality into mind reading, problem solving into abstract reasoning, traditions into culture, and empathy into morality.

Suddendorf concludes with the provocative suggestion that our unrivalled status may be our own creation—and that the gap is growing wider not so much because we are becoming smarter but because we are killing off our closest intelligent animal relatives.

Weaving together the latest findings in animal behavior, child development, anthropology, psychology, and neuroscience, this book will change the way we think about our place in nature. A major argument for reconsidering what makes us human, The Gap is essential reading for anyone interested in our evolutionary origins and our relationship with the rest of the animal kingdom.

See also: Book website

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new book – ‘The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest’ by Penelope A. Lewis

August 27, 2013

Secret World of Sleep

The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest by Penelope A. Lewis (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

In recent years neuroscientists have uncovered the countless ways our brain trips us up in day-to-day life, from its propensity toward irrational thought to how our intuitions deceive us. The latest research on sleep, however, points in the opposite direction. Where old wives tales have long advised to “sleep on a problem,” today scientists are discovering the truth behind these folk sayings, and how the busy brain radically improves our minds through sleep and dreams. In The Secret World of Sleep, neuroscientist Penny Lewis explores the latest research into the nighttime brain to understand the real benefits of sleep. She shows how, while our body rests, the brain practices tasks it learned during the day, replays traumatic events to mollify them, and forges connections between distant concepts. By understanding the roles that the nocturnal brain plays in our waking life, we can improve the relationship between the two, and even boost creativity and become smarter. This is a fascinating exploration of one of the most surprising corners of neuroscience that shows how science may be able to harness the power of sleep to improve learning, health, and more.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author interview on NPR

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