Why Choose This Book?: How We Make Decisions

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9780525949824: Why Choose This Book?: How We Make Decisions

To the list of writers connecting mainstream readers and cutting-edge science—Malcolm Gladwell, Steven Johnson, James Surowiecki—add Read Montague, with this exploration of what exactly determines the choices we make.

With a new perspective on the science of decision-making from the researcher at the center of the computational neuroscience revolution, Why Choose This Book? shows what the latest brain science reveals about the crucial events of everyday experience—the choices we make. From how we decide what we consume to what kind of art we like, and even the romantic, ethical, and financial choices we make, Read Montague guides the reader through a new approach to the mind with an accessible style that is both entertaining and illuminating.

In taking apart the mindÂ's decision-making machinery, Montague first illustrates how our brains are like computers that are slow, small, fuzzy, and cheap—and began with goals like food, water, and sex. Second, he reveals how simple goals like these then turn into ideas like beauty, love, and terror with a life of their own. Finally, he explains how a value system in our heads controls those ideas so we can make good decisions—and how that physical system can break down leading to bad decisions, addictions, mental illness, and even large economic disasters.

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From the Back Cover:

"A fascinating introduction to an important new area of research in the science of mind."
-Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor, Harvard University, author of The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate


"Montague knows that cool reason is not enough to explain decisions: emotions provide biological value and are an indispensable factor in how one chooses. Drawing on a vast amount of recent knowledge, some of which coming from his own work, Montague makes a compelling case for the significance of that fact in everyday choices. Read this book and maybe you will discover why you buy what you buy."
-Antonio Damasio, Director, Brain and Creativity Institute University of Southern California, author of Descartes' Error

"Choosing is as basic a business as breathing. But how do brains make good choices and avoid stupid ones? A gifted neuroscientist, Read Montague has spent the last decade plumbing these mysteries. Assembling a vast range of experimental results, he has now crafted a simple and coherent framework that demystifies choosing. Importantly, the approach hogties old philosophical dogmas, and invites us to look at ourselves anew, from the brain's point of view. The book is comprehensively informed, calmly unafraid, and heart-warmingly witty. It tells a gripping story about what makes me me."
-Prof. Patricia Churchland, Chair, Philosophy Department, University of California San Diego, and MacArthur "Genius" award winner

"The question of how we make choices is one of the oldest in philosophy. Read Montague, a pioneer in this field, has for the first time tackled the problem from a neuro-scientific perspective that not only makes it a valuable antidote to philosophy, but fun to read as well."
-V. S. Ramachandran M.D., Ph.D., Professor and Director, University of California San Diego Center for brain and cognition, author of A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness

About the Author:

Read Montague is a professor in the department of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, director of the Human Neuroimaging Lab, and director of the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience. He is currently a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

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Read Montague
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ISBN 10: 0525949828 ISBN 13: 9780525949824
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