Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain Short Essay - Answer Key

David Eagleman
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1. What does Eagleman describe in the opening chapter?

In the opening chapter, Eagleman describes the almost unfathomable complexity of the human brain, which contains hundreds of billions of neurons each of which forms thousands of connections with other neurons.

2. What does Eagleman say scientists continually study, and what is the result?

Scientists are continually studying how the brain works, but much of what happens inside the brain is still a mystery, Eagleman explains.

3. How is one's conscious mind limited and how does this make the mind more difficult to understand?

We are limited by our conscious minds from fully understanding what goes on in the unconscious.

4. Summarize the experiment Eagleman writes about concerning photographs of women and how men responded.

Men were shown photographs of the faces of several women and asked to rate their attractiveness. Photographs where the women's eyes had been dilated were consistently ranked as more attractive. When asked why they had chosen some women as more attractive than others, the subjects did not mention the dilated eyes as a factor, yet they clearly were. Dilated pupils in a woman indicate a state of sexual arousal, suggesting that the subjects who found these photos more attractive were acting on a natural impulse of their unconscious minds. More importantly to his argument, however, is that they could not articulate exactly why they found dilated eyes more attractive.

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