cover image The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain

The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain

Annie Murphy Paul. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-544-94766-5

Science journalist Paul (Brilliant: The New Science of Smart) pushes back against the idea that brains are “a cordoned-off space where cognition happens” in this thoroughly reported look at myriad types of thinking. She posits that bodies, physical spaces, and the minds of other people expand one’s ability to decide, analyze, focus, and solve problems. As such, being aware of one’s bodily signals (such as an increased heart rate) allows people to make better decisions beyond using solely intelligence, and she offers as an example successful Wall Street traders who hit it big by trusting their gut. As for physical spaces, Paul makes a case that nature allows for better focus, and tells of a medical researcher who found architecture so inspiring that it led to intellectual breakthroughs. And people tend to think better alongside others, Paul explains: physics students, for example, become more nimble problem solvers when they socialize with other physics students. Paul’s knack for finding real-world scenarios to illustrate scientific ideas makes this pop and lends much credence to the theory that an isolated mind isn’t the sole source of intelligence and creativity. Her fresh approach hits the mark. [em]Agent: Tina Bennett, William Morris Endeavor. (June) [/em]