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The Enchanted Loom reviews Greg Berns' book, Iconoclast


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As an innovative, iconoclastic neuroscience researcher at Emory University, I'm always interested when any of Greg Berns' work appears in publications that come across my desk. This book is no exception. I encourage all of us to take up the challenge to be who we each really are: iconoclasts at heart - or brain.

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The Enchanted Loom reviews Greg Berns' book, Iconoclast

  1. 1. The Enchanted Loom Teasing sturdy threads from neuroscience masterworks
  2. 2. Teasing 10 threads from Greg Bern’s…
  3. 3. Thread 1: An iconoclast is a person who does something that others say can’t be done. They see things differently because their brains do not fall into “efficiency traps” as much as the average person’s brain. (pg. 6-7)
  4. 4. Thread 2: To see things differently than other people, the most effective solution is to bombard the brain with things it has never encountered before. The problem with novelty, how- ever is that, for most people, it triggers the fear system of the brain. (pg. 8)
  5. 5. Thread 3: The ability to tame the stress response is the second great hurdle to becoming an iconclast. (pg. 62)
  6. 6. Thread 4: The first hurdle an iconoclast must overcome is learning to see things differently than others. (pg. 15)
  7. 7. Thread 5: The iconoclast doesn’t literally see things differ- ently than other people. More precisely she perceives things differently. (Per- ceiving things differently) de- pends on the element of surprise. (pg. 25)
  8. 8. Thread 6: From the perspective of the brain, familiar items are not necessarily more pleasurable or rewarding; it is simply that unfamiliar things tend to be alarming and potentially dangerous. Familiarity quiets the amygdala. (pg. 143)
  9. 9. Thread 7: Perception and imagination are closely linked because the brain uses the same systems for both functions. You can think of imag- ination as nothing more than running the perceptual machinery in reverse. (pg. 39)
  10. 10. Thread 8: Fear feels bad….The blood pressure rises and the heart starts beating faster…. The mouth dries up and with it the words coming out. Fingers tremble. The voice warbles and cracks and the stomach flip-flops. (pg. 61)
  11. 11. Thread 9: From an iconoclast’s perspective, an effective strategy for dealing with a group is to recruit one like- minded individual. (pg. 103)
  12. 12. Thread 10: We possess a reciprocity assumption – a bio- logical golden rule. Our brains are wired to be sensitive to fairness because unfairness might come back to haunt us one day. (pg. 148)
  13. 13. Thread 11: The brain is lazy. It changes only when it has to. And the conditions that consistently force the brain to rewire itself are when it confronts something novel. Novelty equals learn- ing, and learning means physical rewiring of the brain. (pg. 199)
  14. 14. Image Credits: Title Page: Slide 3 - Slide 12 - Slide 2 - Slide 6 - Slide 5 - Slide 11 - Slide 10 - Slide 15 - Slide 9 - Slide 8 - Slide 7 - Slide 4 - Slide 13 -
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