Book review: Incognito

If I hadn’t gotten interested in engineering and computers when I was younger, neuroscience may have been one of my alternative career choices. How the brain works has always fascinated me. Even more intriguing is how and why we think about the things we do.

I’ve read a lot of books over the last couple of years that have a lot to do with training the mind. These include Psycho-Cybernetics, The Power of Positive Thinking, The Happiness Advantage, and others. While these books talk about harnessing the power of the mind, they don’t get into the details about how the mind works. Incognito, written by David Eagleman, takes this next step and explores the inner workings of the brain.

You would think that a book about neuroscience would be dry, boring, complex and unreachable for the average reader. Fortunately, Eagleman does a great job breaking things down into layman’s terms. He uses specific examples showing how the inner, subconscious mind controls what we do. In fact, as you read the book, you will be fascinated by how many of our daily activities are completed via auto-pilot. The overwhelming majority of the time, we don’t consciously think or concentrate on what we’re doing. It just happens.

Driving a car is a prime example. Driving is a complex activity. It should command 100% of our focus and attention at all times. Yet, on your ride home from work today, would you be able to tell how many green lights and red lights you encountered? I doubt it. You’re programmed to stop or go depending on the light’s color. You don’t even have to think about it.

I found Incognito interesting due to my fascination with neuroscience and the operation of the brain, as well as my desire to understand my own self better. Because the book covers such a specialized topic, I’m not going to recommend as a Must Read or Fun Read. However, if you are interested in learning more about the brain, understanding your inner self, and considering the implications of neuroscience applications, then Incognito is for you. It’s well written, and it’s very approachable. In other words, you don’t need to be a brain surgeon to comprehend it. Let’s just say that if I understood and enjoyed it, then you will, too.