How the Brain Makes Decisions

What if our ability to make decisions was more a matter of chance than a rational process? It has long been recognized that the mind decides, the body obeys. However, as the author of this book argues, in reality it might just be the opposite. The decision-making process is produced by cerebral matter. It is a random phenomenon that results from competing processes within a network whose architecture has changed little since the first vertebrates.

This book presents a ‘bottom-up’ approach to understanding decision making, starting from the fundamental question: what are the basic properties that a neural network of decision making needs to possess? Combining data drawn from phylogeny and physiology, the book provides a general framework for the neurobiology of decision-making in vertebrates, and explains how it evolved from the lamprey to the apes. It also looks at the consequences of such a framework: how it impacts our capacity for reasoning, and considers some aspects of the pathophysiology of higher brain functions. It ends with an open discussion of more philosophical concepts such as the nature of Free-will.

Written in a lively and accessible style, the book presents an exciting perspective on understanding decision making.
The goal of this book is to present the science behind decision-making in humans. In particular, one of the main concepts the author puts forward in the book is that, if our brain is a decision-making machine, then that machine can break down; it can have a “failure” or “vulnerabilities.” And that it is possible to understand that machinery (even to understand that it is a machinery), without losing the potential to appreciate all the things that make us human (including our decision-making ability). Here the author brings together cutting edge research in psychology, robotics, economics, neuroscience, and the new fields of neuroeconomics and computational psychiatry, to offer a unified theory of human decision-making. Most importantly, he shows how vulnerabilities, or “failure-modes,” in the decision-making system can lead to serious dysfunctions, such as irrational behavior, addictions, problem gambling, and PTSD. Ranging widely from the surprising roles of emotion, habit, and narrative in decision-making, to the larger philosophical questions of how mind and brain are related, what makes us human, the nature of morality, free will, and the conundrum of robotics and consciousness, this work offers fresh insight into one of the most complex aspects of human behavior.

Title: The Mind Within the Brain How We Make Decisions and How Those Decisions Go Wrong
Author:
ISBN: 0199891885,9780199891887
Publisher: OUP USA
Genre: Medical / Psychiatry / General
Date Published:
Pages: 377
Preview Link: Google Preview Link

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