Author: Jonah Lehrer
Title: How We Decide
Publication Info: Brilliance Audio on CD Unabridged Lib Ed (2009), Edition: Library, Audio CD
This book is an entertaining summary of the neuroscience behind human decision making. Lehrer fills the book with lots of vivid stories of airline pilots, athletes and military personnel making split-second decisions as well as other examples of people making very poor decisions and even the effects of damaged minds on decision-making (including a chilling chapter on psychopaths). Decisions are examined by what part of the brain they work from and how different areas of the brain can work against one another. Some counterintuitive conclusions are explained such as that one cannot make decisions without emotions and that in some cases the more one examines the options the odds of making the right decision are decreased. A good book for getting to know one’s brain better.
This research can also help explain why we get cranky when we’re hungry and tired: the brain is less able to suppress the negative emotions sparked by small annoyances. A bad mood is really just a run-down prefrontal cortex.
Recommended books: Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell and Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath