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An animated introduction to the neuroscience of sensory perception with broad appeal to artists, musicians, and other...

You don’t need a brain to sense what’s going on around you—though it helps.

Consciousness may be reserved for creatures with more brainpower than paramecia possess, but there are still at least 100 million microbial species that can process sensory information about their environments. “So why all the fuss about brains?” asks genomics researcher DeSalle (co-author: Welcome to the Microbiome, 2015, etc.), curator of the American Museum of Natural History. It’s a good question, one answer to which is that information about how we sense is most often the product of neuroscientific research. Such research tells us, for instance, that in the resting state, our brains trundle along at about 70 millivolts, while when they’re agitated, they go up by 40 millivolts or so, a matter of “action potential” that has bearing on how the nervous, sensory, and motor systems interact. Given that there are 6,393 synapses connecting the 279 cells of the nematode nervous system, our own electronic wiring scheme begins to look impossibly complex. There, again, neuroscience has mapped out how sensory information arrives in the human brain and how it travels along neural pathways depending on what kind it is—if visual, for instance, along “nerve cells coming from the eye [that] are bundled into rather large neural structures, the optic nerves.” There are no end of possibilities for going haywire, but amazingly, we get it right most of the time. DeSalle’s text is written at a high level of scientific sophistication, requiring scientific literacy to follow the argument. Even so, he is light-handed enough to use Spinal Tap guitarist Nigel Tufnel’s this-amp-goes-to-11 shtick to explain “crossmodality,” and he peppers his text with nice bits of learned trivia, such as the different color perception systems of monkeys and human artists, the lack of balance in tree sloths, and the like.

An animated introduction to the neuroscience of sensory perception with broad appeal to artists, musicians, and other consumers and generators of brainpower.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-300-23019-2

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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