The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain

Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2021. 352p. ISBN 9780544947665. $28. SCI
What are the benefits of “thinking outside the brain,” and what are some useful techniques for doing so? As a journalist and advisor at the Yale Center for Teaching and Learning, Paul has explored how thinkers, from Friedrich Nietzsche to Jonas Salk to Jackson Pollock, have extended their brain power. She surveys research done by neuroscientists and cognitive scientists that shows the value of pursuing various and multiple kinds of thinking; her book makes the case that this research has sharpened our interoceptive senses (our awareness of what’s going on inside our bodies, of sensations like hunger, thirst, and pain), useful for guiding decision-making and managing mental processes. Paul also carefully considers using particular modes of physical activity to restore focus and increase creativity; using social interaction to allow other people’s cognition to augment our own; designing workspaces for greater productivity and performance; and, in general, “how to offload, externalize, and dynamically interact with our thoughts.” In each chapter, she writes accessibly, allowing readers new to these scientific concepts to easily follow along.
VERDICT A practical and mind-expanding guide for writers, artists, teachers, and anyone who wants to increase their brain power and help others do the same.
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