Chatty Neurons


7 ¹/₂ Lessons About the Brain

By Lisa Feldman Barrett


Right off the bat, Dr. Feldman Barrett tells us that our brains are not made for thinking.




Well, I’m sure we can all come up with a few people for whom that certainly appears to be true …


I won’t tell you what she says it’s for though—you’ll have to read the book to find out.


Dr. Feldman Barrett dispels some myths about how the brain works and says that many of the metaphors used to explain the mind are often mistaken for actual brain structures.


That said, the author uses many helpful metaphors herself (always pointing out when she’s doing so) to explain how the brain is wired into a network of neurons that constantly chat with each other. Having read her descriptions, I can now better understand how this incessant communication can also lead to gossip being spread around in your mind—you know, all those things you thought were true, but maybe aren’t, after all. (“You’re not good at learning this or that” being one of the most widespread. Time to do some fact checking because that could just be fake news that spread like wildfire throughout your neuronal network while you were growing up.)


Fascinating too, how the brain can make predictions on what will happen and adjust your physiology accordingly. For example, I did not know that it takes water 20 minutes to reach the bloodstream. So why does my thirst feel quenched almost immediately after I have had a glass of water? Read Lesson 4 (Your Brain Predicts (Almost) Everything You Do) to find out.


I wish all politicians and decision-makers would read this book, especially Lessons 3 (Little Brains Wire Themselves to Their World), 5 (Your Brain Secretly Works With Other Brains), and 7 (Our Brains Can Create Reality) and then take action based on this information.


All in all, this short book (just 166 pages, including the appendix which is also well worth reading) will make you think about human behavior, especially your own. (Dr. Feldman Barrett does NOT claim that we don’t think, because obviously we do, it’s just not the primary function of the brain.)


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