Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, or some scientist has proven that we only use about 10% of our brains. And if only we could learn to harness the remaining 90% of that untapped potential, there's no telling what we would be capable of doing. Right? Er, well, actually - no. As the authors of Mind Hacks reveal, this is one of those things that many people believe (according to some surveys, as much as 50% of the population), but it has no basis in fact. In truth, our brains use every neuron they have in processing information – as the authors put it, if you don't believe that, try removing a portion of your brain and see how well the remaining tissue functions.
Mind Hacks is all about giving the brain its due. "The brain is a fearsomely complex information-processing environment," the authors write. It's not a clear mechanical system like a computer; the same input won't always lead to the same output, and it isn't really possible to say that "this bit of the brain is solely responsible for function X."
In short, punchy sections, the authors delve into such heady topics as neuropsychology, cognitive psychology, and other techniques for studying the brain. According to authors Stafford and Webb, neuroscience is set to explode into the public consciousness over the next decade, and the study of brain biology through scanning, computational modeling, and a host of other techniques will help researchers discover where, why, and how the brain makes all sorts of things happen.
Organized as a series of "hacks," each hack (100 in total) represents a tip, trick, or experiment about how the human brain works in the context of vision, motor skills, attention, cognition, and subliminal perception. It could be a tip on why people don't work like elevator buttons (hint: people respond to more intense signals, but elevators don't, even though we often assume that they should, which is why we punch the stupid button so many times). There are more complicated hacks on things like understanding visual processing (and "just how nonsequential it all really is") and sections on understanding how the brain filters shadow and light in certain ways to provide shading, depth, and more.
As a writer (and former English student), I found the hack on "memory-buffer overrun" while reading to be quite interesting.
When you're reading a sentence, you don't understand it word by word, but rather phrase by phrase. Phrases are groups of words that can be bundled together, and they're related by the rules of grammar. A noun phrase will include nouns and adjectives, and a verb phrase will include a verb and a noun, for example. These phrases are the building blocks of language, and we naturally chunk sentences into phrase blocks just as we chunk visual images into objects.