Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain

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Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain
Title Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain
Author
Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release DateNovember 17, 2020
Category New Release
Total Pages 192 pages
ISBN 1234567890
Book Rating 5 out of 5 from 2928 reviews
Language EN, ES, BE, DA ,DE , NL and FR
Book Review & Summary:

From the author of How Emotions Are Made, a captivating collection of short essays about your brain, in the tradition of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry and Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. Have you ever wondered why you have a brain? Let renowned neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett demystify that big gray blob between your ears. In seven short essays (plus a bite-sized story about how brains evolved), this slim, entertaining, and accessible collection reveals mind-expanding lessons from the front lines of neuroscience research. You'll learn where brains came from, how they're structured (and why it matters), and how yours works in tandem with other brains to create everything you experience. Along the way, you'll also learn to dismiss popular myths such as the idea of a "lizard brain" and the alleged battle between thoughts and emotions, or even between nature and nurture, to determine your behavior. Sure to intrigue casual readers and scientific veterans alike, Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain is full of surprises, humor, and important implications for human nature--a gift of a book that you will want to savor again and again.

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Title Seven and a Half Lessons about the Brain
Author Lisa Feldman Barrett
Publisher Houghton Mifflin
Release Date 2020-11-17
Category Science
Total Pages 192
ISBN 9780358157144
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

From the author of How Emotions Are Made, a myth-busting primer on the brain, in the tradition of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

Title Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain
Author Lisa Feldman Barrett
Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date 2020-11-17
Category Science
Total Pages 192
ISBN 9780358157120
Language English, Spanish, and French
GET BOOK
Book Summary:

From the author of How Emotions Are Made, a myth-busting primer on the brain in the tradition of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. Have you ever wondered why you have a brain? Let renowned neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett demystify that big gray blob between your ears. In seven short essays (plus a bite-sized story about how brains evolved), this slim, entertaining, and accessible collection reveals mind-expanding lessons from the front lines of neuroscience research. You’ll learn where brains came from, how they’re structured (and why it matters), and how yours works in tandem with other brains to create everything you experience. Along the way, you’ll also learn to dismiss popular myths such as the idea of a “lizard brain” and the alleged battle between thoughts and emotions, or even between nature and nurture, to determine your behavior. Sure to intrigue casual readers and scientific veterans alike, Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain is full of surprises, humor, and important implications for human nature—a gift of a book that you will want to savor again and again.

How Emotions Are Made by Lisa Feldman Barrett

Title How Emotions Are Made
Author Lisa Feldman Barrett
Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date 2017-03-07
Category Psychology
Total Pages 496
ISBN 9780544129962
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

“Fascinating . . . A thought-provoking journey into emotion science.” — Wall Street Journal “A singular book, remarkable for the freshness of its ideas and the boldness and clarity with which they are presented.” — Scientific American “A brilliant and original book on the science of emotion, by the deepest thinker about this topic since Darwin.” — Daniel Gilbert, best-selling author of Stumbling on Happiness The science of emotion is in the midst of a revolution on par with the discovery of relativity in physics and natural selection in biology. Leading the charge is psychologist and neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett, whose research overturns the long-standing belief that emotions are automatic, universal, and hardwired in different brain regions. Instead, Barrett shows, we construct each instance of emotion through a unique interplay of brain, body, and culture. A lucid report from the cutting edge of emotion science, How Emotions Are Made reveals the profound real-world consequences of this breakthrough for everything from neuroscience and medicine to the legal system and even national security, laying bare the immense implications of our latest and most intimate scientific revolution. “Mind-blowing.” — Elle “Chock-full of startling, science-backed findings . . . An entertaining and engaging read. ” — Forbes

The Walking People by Mary Beth Keane

Title The Walking People
Author Mary Beth Keane
Publisher HMH
Release Date 2010-05-27
Category Fiction
Total Pages 416
ISBN 0547394365
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

A “beautifully crafted” novel of two sisters’ lives, spanning from 1950s Ireland to modern-day America (Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin). Greta Cahill never believed she would leave her village in west Ireland. Yet one day she found herself on a ship bound for New York, along with her sister, Johanna, and a boy named Michael Ward, a son of itinerant tinkers. Back home, her family hadn’t expressed much confidence in her abilities, but Greta discovers that in America she can fall in love, earn a living, and build a life. She longs to return and show her family what she has made of herself—but that could mean revealing a secret about her past to her children. So she carefully keeps her life in New York separate from the life she once loved in Ireland, torn from the people she is closest to. Decades later, she discovers that her children, with the best of intentions, have conspired to unite the worlds she has so painstakingly kept apart. And though the Ireland of her memory may bear little resemblance to that of present day, she fears it is still possible to lose all . . . “A compelling drama of transatlantic Irish life.” —Billy Collins “Marries a deliciously old-fashioned style of storytelling with a fresh take on the immigrant experience . . . A warm, involving family drama.” —Booklist

Title Life Lessons from a Brain Surgeon
Author Rahul Jandial
Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date 2019-06-04
Category Science
Total Pages 272
ISBN 9781328969835
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

With engrossing stories from the OR and the lab, a leading neurosurgeon and neuroscientist explores the cutting-edge science that can be applied to everyday life for peak performance, improved memory, enhanced creativity, and much more. From the operating room, where he performs some of the riskiest surgeries around, to the lab, where he works on leading clinical trials, Dr. Rahul Jandial is on the cutting edge of the latest advancements in neuroscience. This fascinating book draws on Dr. Jandial’s broad-spectrum expertise and brings together the best of various fields—surgery, science, brain structure, the conscious mind—all to explain the bigger picture of brain health and rejuvenation. It is a journey into his operating room, around the world on his surgical missions, inside his laboratory, and to the outer edges of neuroscience to reveal the latest brain breakthroughs that are turning science fiction into reality, translating their implications for everyday life. Busting myths along the way, Jandial helps readers get wired for success at work and school, perform better when the pressure is on, boost memory, control stress and emotions, minimize pain, stick to a healthy eating plan, unleash creativity, raise smarter kids, and stay sharp as they age. Combining the treatment guidelines he gives his patients, the most promising concepts from frontier science, and the smartest super-achiever hacks, he provides practical takeaways for optimizing brain function and leading a healthier, happier, more productive life.

Livewired by David Eagleman

Title Livewired
Author David Eagleman
Publisher Doubleday Canada
Release Date 2020-08-25
Category Science
Total Pages 320
ISBN 9780385677318
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

You will never think about your brain in the same way again. The brain is often portrayed as an organ with different regions dedicated to specific tasks. But that textbook model is wrong. The brain is a dynamic system, constantly modifying its own circuitry to match the demands of the environment and the body in which it finds itself. If you were to zoom into the living, microscopic cosmos inside the skull, you would witness tentacle-like extensions grasping, bumping, sensing, searching for the right connections to establish or forego, like denizens of a country establishing friendships, marriages, neighbourhoods, political parties, vendettas, and social networks. It's a mysterious kind of computational material, an organic three-dimensional textile that adjusts itself to operate with maximum efficiency. The brain is not hardwired, David Eagleman contends--it is livewired. With his new theory of infotropism, Eagleman demonstrates why the fundamental principle of the brain is information maximization: in the same way that plants grow toward light, brains reconfigure to boost data from the outside world. Follow Eagleman on a thrilling journey to discover how a child can function with one half of his brain removed, how a blind man can hit a baseball via a sensor on his tongue, how new devices and body plans can enhance our natural capacities, how paralyzed people will soon be able to dance in thought-controlled robotic suits, how we can build the next generation of devices based on the principles of the brain, and what all this has to do with why we dream at night.

Your Symphony Of Selves by James Fadiman

Title Your Symphony of Selves
Author James Fadiman
Publisher Simon and Schuster
Release Date 2020-08-04
Category Self-Help
Total Pages 448
ISBN 9781644110270
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

Why you are a different you at different times and how that’s both normal and healthy • Reveals that each of us is made up of multiple selves, any of which can come to the forefront in different situations • Offers examples of healthy multiple selves from psychology, neuroscience, pop culture, literature, and ancient cultures and traditions • Explores how to harmonize our selves and learn to access whichever one is best for a given situation Offering groundbreaking insight into the dynamic nature of personality, James Fadiman and Jordan Gruber show that each of us is comprised of distinct, autonomous, and inherently valuable “selves.” They also show that honoring each of these selves is a key to improved ways of living, loving, and working. Explaining that it is normal to have multiple selves, the authors offer insights into why we all are inconsistent at times, allowing us to become more accepting of the different parts of who we and other people are. They explore, through extensive reviews, how the concept of healthy multiple selves has been supported in science, popular culture, spirituality, philosophy, art, literature, and ancient traditions and cite well-known people, including David Bowie and Beyoncé, who describe accessing another self at a pivotal point in their lives to resolve a pressing challenge. Instead of seeing the existence of many selves as a flaw or pathology, the authors reveal that the healthiest people, mentally and emotionally, are those that have naturally learned to appreciate and work in harmony with their own symphony of selves. They identify “the Single Self Assumption” as the prime reason why the benefits of having multiple selves has been ignored. This assumption holds that we each are or ought to be a single consistent self, yet we all recognize, in reality, that we are different in different situations. Offering a pragmatic approach, the authors show how you can prepare for situations by shifting to the appropriate self, rather than being “switched” or “triggered” into a sub-optimal part of who you are. They also show how recognizing your selves provides increased access to skills, talent, and creativity; enhanced energy; and improved healing and pain management. Appreciating your diverse selves will give you more empathy toward yourself and others. By harmonizing your symphony of selves, you can learn to be “in the right mind at the right time” more often.

Ageless by Andrew Steele

Title Ageless
Author Andrew Steele
Publisher Doubleday
Release Date 2021-03-23
Category Science
Total Pages 352
ISBN 9780385544931
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

A startling chronicle by a brilliant young scientist takes us onto the frontiers of the science of aging, and reveals how close we are to an astonishing extension of our life spans and a vastly improved quality of life in our later years. Aging--not cancer, not heart disease--is the true underlying cause of most human death and suffering. We accept as inevitable that as we advance in years our bodies and minds begin to deteriorate and that we are ever more likely to be felled by dementia or disease. But we never really ask--is aging necessary? Biologists, on the other hand, have been investigating that question for years. After all, there are tortoises and salamanders whose risk of dying is the same no matter how old they are. With the help of science, could humans find a way to become old without getting frail, a phenomenon known as "biological immortality"? In Ageless, Andrew Steele, a computational biologist and science writer, takes us on a journey through the laboratories where scientists are studying every bodily system that declines with age--DNA, mitochondria, stem cells, our immune systems--and developing therapies to reverse the trend. With bell-clear writing and intellectual passion, Steele shines a spotlight on a little-known revolution already underway.

Melania And Me by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff

Title Melania and Me
Author Stephanie Winston Wolkoff
Publisher Gallery Books
Release Date 2020-09-01
Category Biography & Autobiography
Total Pages 352
ISBN 9781982151249
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER What Melania wants, Melania gets. The former director of special events at Vogue and producer of nine legendary Met Galas, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff met Melania Knauss in 2003 and had a front row seat to the transformation of Donald Trump’s then girlfriend from a rough-cut gem to a precious diamond. As their friendship deepened over lunches at Manhattan hot spots, black-tie parties, and giggle sessions in the penthouse at Trump Tower, Wolkoff watched the newest Mrs. Trump raise her son, Barron, and manage her highly scrutinized marriage. After Trump won the 2016 election, Wolkoff was recruited to help produce the 58th Presidential Inaugu­ration and to become the First Lady’s trusted advisor. Melania put Wolkoff in charge of hiring her staff, organizing her events, helping her write speeches, and creating her debut initiatives. Then it all fell apart when she was made the scapegoat for inauguration finance irregularities. Melania could have defended her innocent friend and confidant, but she stood by her man, knowing full well who was really to blame. The betrayal nearly destroyed Wolkoff. In this candid and emotional memoir, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff takes you into Trump Tower and the White House to tell the funny, thrilling, and heartbreaking story of her intimate friendship with one of the most famous women in the world, a woman few people truly understand. How did Melania react to the Access Hollywood tape and her husband’s affair with Stormy Daniels? Does she get along well with Ivanka? Why did she wear that jacket with “I really don’t care, do u?” printed on the back? Is Melania happy being First Lady? And what really happened with the inauguration’s funding of $107 million? Wolkoff has some ideas...

Title Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
Author Carlo Rovelli
Publisher Penguin
Release Date 2016-03-01
Category Science
Total Pages 96
ISBN 9780399184437
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

The New York Times bestseller from the author of The Order of Time and Reality Is Not What It Seems and Helgoland “One of the year’s most entrancing books about science.”—The Wall Street Journal “Clear, elegant...a whirlwind tour of some of the biggest ideas in physics.”—The New York Times Book Review This playful, entertaining, and mind-bending introduction to modern physics briskly explains Einstein's general relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles, gravity, black holes, the complex architecture of the universe, and the role humans play in this weird and wonderful world. Carlo Rovelli, a renowned theoretical physicist, is a delightfully poetic and philosophical scientific guide. He takes us to the frontiers of our knowledge: to the most minute reaches of the fabric of space, back to the origins of the cosmos, and into the workings of our minds. The book celebrates the joy of discovery. “Here, on the edge of what we know, in contact with the ocean of the unknown, shines the mystery and the beauty of the world,” Rovelli writes. “And it’s breathtaking.”

Title Helping Patients Outsmart Overeating
Author Karen R. Koenig
Publisher Rowman & Littlefield
Release Date 2017-01-12
Category Health & Fitness
Total Pages 260
ISBN 9781442266636
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

Helping Patients Outsmart Overeating, written by an eating disorder therapist and a physician, offers a new paradigm for doctors and health care providers who treat patients with eating and weight concerns. It describes how both parties are frustrated by weight-loss plans and programs that fail in the long term, and presents a science-based explanation for why diets fail and how they, in fact, may adversely impact patients’ mental and physical health. The authors illustrate how providers can truly help patients by using empathy, compassion, and motivational interviewing. They explain how helping patients strengthen skills related to self-awareness, emotional management, stress reduction, appetite attunement, perseverance and effective self-care can improve self-efficacy and support sustained motivation in improving health and wellness promoting behaviors. The issue of weight stigma is addressed, along with how professionals’ view of their own eating and weight affects the patient-provider relationship. This book introduces clinicians to tools from eating and success psychology, Intuitive Eating, Lifestyle Medicine, and Health and Wellness Coaching, within a weight-inclusive paradigm. It also details a collaborative model for working with ancillary disciplines to give patients and providers the comprehensive support needed for lasting success.

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

Title Love That Dog
Author Sharon Creech
Publisher A&C Black
Release Date 2001
Category Children's poetry, American
Total Pages 86
ISBN 9780747557494
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

Slowly Jack learns the pleasures of writing poetry as Miss Stretchberry encourages him to tell his own story through verse. What emerges is a moving and memorable story about a boy and his dog and his growing passion for poetry.

The Extended Mind by Annie Murphy Paul

Title The Extended Mind
Author Annie Murphy Paul
Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date 2021-06-08
Category Science
Total Pages 352
ISBN 9780544947580
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

A bold new book reveals how we can tap the intelligence that exists beyond our brains—in our bodies, our surroundings, and our relationships Use your head. That’s what we tell ourselves when facing a tricky problem or a difficult project. But a growing body of research indicates that we’ve got it exactly backwards. What we need to do, says acclaimed science writer Annie Murphy Paul, is think outside the brain. A host of “extra-neural” resources—the feelings and movements of our bodies, the physical spaces in which we learn and work, and the minds of those around us— can help us focus more intently, comprehend more deeply, and create more imaginatively. The Extended Mind outlines the research behind this exciting new vision of human ability, exploring the findings of neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, psychologists, and examining the practices of educators, managers, and leaders who are already reaping the benefits of thinking outside the brain. She excavates the untold history of how artists, scientists, and authors—from Jackson Pollock to Jonas Salk to Robert Caro—have used mental extensions to solve problems, make discoveries, and create new works. In the tradition of Howard Gardner’s Frames of Mind or Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence, The Extended Mind offers a dramatic new view of how our minds work, full of practical advice on how we can all think better.

Title Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
Author Betty Edwards
Publisher Tarcher
Release Date 1989
Category Art
Total Pages 254
ISBN 0874775132
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

Helps the reader gain access to right-brain functions, which affect artistic and creative abilities, by teaching the skills of drawing through unusual exercises designed to increase visual skills

How We Learn by Stanislas Dehaene

Title How We Learn
Author Stanislas Dehaene
Publisher Penguin
Release Date 2020-01-28
Category Science
Total Pages 352
ISBN 9780525559894
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

“There are words that are so familiar they obscure rather than illuminate the thing they mean, and ‘learning’ is such a word. It seems so ordinary, everyone does it. Actually it’s more of a black box, which Dehaene cracks open to reveal the awesome secrets within.”--The New York Times Book Review An illuminating dive into the latest science on our brain's remarkable learning abilities and the potential of the machines we program to imitate them The human brain is an extraordinary learning machine. Its ability to reprogram itself is unparalleled, and it remains the best source of inspiration for recent developments in artificial intelligence. But how do we learn? What innate biological foundations underlie our ability to acquire new information, and what principles modulate their efficiency? In How We Learn, Stanislas Dehaene finds the boundary of computer science, neurobiology, and cognitive psychology to explain how learning really works and how to make the best use of the brain’s learning algorithms in our schools and universities, as well as in everyday life and at any age.

Teaching To Strengths by Debbie Zacarian

Title Teaching to Strengths
Author Debbie Zacarian
Publisher ASCD
Release Date 2017-09-20
Category Education
Total Pages 204
ISBN 9781416624608
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

Half the students in U.S. schools are experiencing or have experienced trauma, violence, or chronic stress. Much has been written about these students from a therapeutic perspective, especially regarding how to provide them with adequate counseling supports and services. Conversely, little has been written about teaching this population and doing so from a strengths-based perspective. Using real-world examples as well as research-based principles, this book shows how to * Identify inherent assets that students bring to the classroom. * Connect to students’ experiences through instructional planning and delivery. * Foster students’ strengths through the use of predictable routines and structured paired and small-group learning experiences. * Develop family and community partnerships. Experts Debbie Zacarian, Lourdes Alvarez-Ortiz, and Judie Haynes outline a comprehensive, collaborative approach to teaching that focuses on students’ strengths and resiliency. Teaching to Strengths encourages educators to embrace teaching and schoolwide practices that support and enhance the academic and socio-emotional development of students living with trauma, violence, and chronic stress.

Title The Feeling of Life Itself
Author Christof Koch
Publisher Unknown
Release Date 2020-09-07
Category
Total Pages 280
ISBN 9780262539555
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

An argument that consciousness, more widespread than previously assumed, is the feeling of being alive, not a type of computation or a clever hack. In The Feeling of Life Itself, Christof Koch offers a straightforward definition of consciousness as any subjective experience, from the most mundane to the most exalted--the feeling of being alive. Psychologists study which cognitive operations underpin a given conscious perception. Neuroscientists track the neural correlates of consciousness in the brain, the organ of the mind. But why the brain and not, say, the liver? How can the brain, three pounds of highly excitable matter, a piece of furniture in the universe, subject to the same laws of physics as any other piece, give rise to subjective experience? Koch argues that what is needed to answer these questions is a quantitative theory that starts with experience and proceeds to the brain. In The Feeling of Life Itself, Koch outlines such a theory, based on integrated information. Koch describes how the theory explains many facts about the neurology of consciousness and how it has been used to build a clinically useful consciousness meter. The theory predicts that many, and perhaps all, animals experience the sights and sounds of life; consciousness is much more widespread than conventionally assumed. Contrary to received wisdom, however, Koch argues that programmable computers will not have consciousness. Even a perfect software model of the brain is not conscious. Its simulation is fake consciousness. Consciousness is not a special type of computation--it is not a clever hack. Consciousness is about being.

Title How Emotions Are Made by Lisa Feldman Barrett Summary
Author QuickRead
Publisher QuickRead.com
Release Date 2021
Category Study Aids
Total Pages 186
ISBN 9203456XXXX
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

Do you want more free book summaries like this? Download our app for free at https://www.QuickRead.com/App and get access to hundreds of free book and audiobook summaries. Learn About the Secret Life of the Brain When you feel sad, angry, happy, or anxious, what is really going on inside of you? For centuries, scientists have believed that our emotions come from a part of the brain that is triggered by our environment: the excitement for an upcoming holiday, the fear of losing a loved one, or the anxiety of meeting a deadline for work. These emotions seem uncontrollable and as if they surface automatically from within, eventually finding themselves on the expressions of our faces and in how we carry ourselves. People have long believed this theory about emotions since the days of Plato. But what if everything we know about emotions is wrong? Psychologist and neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett gathers the latest scientific research and evidence to reveal that our common-sense ideas about emotions are long outdated. Instead of emotions being pre-programmed into our brains and bodies, emotions are much more complex than previously thought, and Dr. Barrett aims to prove how our emotions are shaped by our experiences and personal history.

Mike Mulligan And His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton

Title Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Author Virginia Lee Burton
Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date 2010-06-28
Category Juvenile Fiction
Total Pages 48
ISBN 0547350570
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

A modern classic that no child should miss. Since it was first published in 1939, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel has delighted generations of children. Mike and his trusty steam shovel, Mary Anne, dig deep canals for boats to travel through, cut mountain passes for trains, and hollow out cellars for city skyscrapers -- the very symbol of industrial America. But with progress come new machines, and soon the inseparable duo are out of work. Mike believes that Mary Anne can dig as much in a day as one hundred men can dig in a week, and the two have one last chance to prove it and save Mary Anne from the scrap heap. What happens next in the small town of Popperville is a testament to their friendship, and to old-fashioned hard work and ingenuity.

The Mind In Context by Batja Mesquita

Title The Mind in Context
Author Batja Mesquita
Publisher Guilford Press
Release Date 2010-01-29
Category Psychology
Total Pages 371
ISBN 9781606235546
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

Most psychology research still assumes that mental processes are internal to the person, waiting to be expressed or activated. This compelling book illustrates that a new paradigm is forming in which contextual factors are considered central to the workings of the mind. Leading experts explore how psychological processes emerge from the transactions of individuals with their physical, social, and cultural environments. The volume showcases cutting-edge research on the contextual nature of such phenomena as gene expression, brain networks, the regulation of hormones, perception, cognition, personality, knowing, learning, and emotion.

Title The Accidental Species
Author Henry Gee
Publisher University of Chicago Press
Release Date 2013-10-15
Category Science
Total Pages 232
ISBN 9780226044989
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

The idea of a missing link between humanity and our animal ancestors predates evolution and popular science and actually has religious roots in the deist concept of the Great Chain of Being. Yet, the metaphor has lodged itself in the contemporary imagination, and new fossil discoveries are often hailed in headlines as revealing the elusive transitional step, the moment when we stopped being “animal” and started being “human.” In The Accidental Species, Henry Gee, longtime paleontology editor at Nature, takes aim at this misleading notion, arguing that it reflects a profound misunderstanding of how evolution works and, when applied to the evolution of our own species, supports mistaken ideas about our own place in the universe. Gee presents a robust and stark challenge to our tendency to see ourselves as the acme of creation. Far from being a quirk of religious fundamentalism, human exceptionalism, Gee argues, is an error that also infects scientific thought. Touring the many features of human beings that have recurrently been used to distinguish us from the rest of the animal world, Gee shows that our evolutionary outcome is one possibility among many, one that owes more to chance than to an organized progression to supremacy. He starts with bipedality, which he shows could have arisen entirely by accident, as a by-product of sexual selection, moves on to technology, large brain size, intelligence, language, and, finally, sentience. He reveals each of these attributes to be alive and well throughout the animal world—they are not, indeed, unique to our species. The Accidental Species combines Gee’s firsthand experience on the editorial side of many incredible paleontological findings with healthy skepticism and humor to create a book that aims to overturn popular thinking on human evolution—the key is not what’s missing, but how we’re linked.

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