Fifty years ago, neuroscientists thought that a mature brain was fixed like a fly in amber, unable to change. Today, we know that our brains and nervous systems change throughout our lifetimes. This concept of neuroplasticity has captured the imagination of a public eager for self-improvement -- and has inspired countless Internet entrepreneurs who peddle dubious "brain training" games and apps. In this book, Moheb Costandi offers a concise and engaging overview of neuroplasticity for the general listener, describing how our brains change continuously in response to our actions and experiences.
Costandi discusses key experimental findings, and describes how our thinking about the brain has evolved over time. He explains how the brain changes during development, and the "synaptic pruning" that takes place before brain maturity. He shows that adult brains can grow new cells (citing, among many other studies, research showing that sexually mature male canaries learn a new song every year). He describes the kind of brain training that can bring about improvement in brain function. It's not gadgets and games that promise to "rewire your brain" but such sustained cognitive tasks as learning a musical instrument or a new language. (Costandi also notes that London cabbies increase their gray matter after rigorous training in their city's complicated streets.) He tells how brains compensate after stroke or injury; describes addiction and pain as maladaptive forms of neuroplasticity; and considers brain changes that accompany childhood, adolescence, parenthood, and aging. Each of our brains is custom-built. Neuroplasticity is at the heart of what makes us human.
We turn on the lights in our house from a desk in an office miles away. Our refrigerator alerts us to buy milk on the way home. A package of cookies on the supermarket shelf suggests that we buy it, based on past purchases. The cookies themselves are on the shelf because of a "smart" supply chain. When we get home, the thermostat has already... Read more »
Most of the information available on cloud computing is either highly technical, with details that are irrelevant to non-technologists, or pure marketing hype, in which the cloud is simply a selling point. This book, however, explains the cloud from the user's viewpoint -- the business user's in particular. Nayan Ruparelia explains what the... Read more »
The word "sustainability" has been connected to everything from a certain kind of economic development to corporate promises about improved supply sourcing. But despite the apparent ubiquity of the term, the concept of sustainability has come to mean a number of specific things. In this accessible guide to the meanings of sustainability, Kent... Read more »
Philosophers from Descartes to Kripke have struggled with the glittering prize of modern and contemporary philosophy: the mind-body problem. The brain is physical. If the mind is physical, we cannot see how. If we cannot see how the mind is physical, we cannot see how it can interact with the body. And if the mind is not physical, it cannot... Read more »
Today, machine learning underlies a range of applications we use every day, from product recommendations to voice recognition -- as well as some we don't yet use everyday, including driverless cars. It is the basis of the new approach in computing where we do not write programs but collect data; the idea is to learn the algorithms for the tasks... Read more »
People keep track. In the eighteenth century, Benjamin Franklin kept charts of time spent and virtues lived up to. Today, people use technology to self-track: hours slept, steps taken, calories consumed, medications administered. Ninety million wearable sensors were shipped in 2014 to help us gather data about our lives. This audiobook examines... Read more »
Although it is among the oldest of market institutions, the auction is ubiquitous in today's economy, used for everything from government procurement to selling advertising on the Internet to course assignment at MIT's Sloan School. And yet beyond the small number of economists who specialize in the subject, few people understand how auctions... Read more »
When "metadata" became breaking news, appearing in stories about surveillance by the National Security Agency, many members of the public encountered this once-obscure term from information science for the first time. Should people be reassured that the NSA was "only" collecting metadata about phone calls -- information about the caller, the... Read more »
The history of computing could be told as the story of hardware and software, or the story of the Internet, or the story of "smart" hand-held devices, with subplots involving IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter. In this concise and accessible account of the invention and development of digital technology, computer historian Paul Ceruzzi... Read more »
Robots are entering the mainstream. Technologies have advanced to the point of mass commercialization -- Roomba, for example -- and adoption by governments -- most notably, their use of drones. Meanwhile, these devices are being received by a public whose main sources of information about robots are the fantasies of popular culture. We know a... Read more »
Fifty years ago, neuroscientists thought that a mature brain was fixed like a fly in amber, unable to change. Today, we know that our brains and nervous systems change throughout our lifetimes. This concept of neuroplasticity has captured the imagination of a public eager for self-improvement -- and has inspired countless Internet entrepreneurs... Read more »