Incognito (a book review)

Book: Incognito

Genre/Subject: Neuro-Science, Psychology

Refereed From: The reading list of Tom Bilyeu

Format: Kindle

Author : David Eagleman

Brief Summary: Incognito is a thought provoking book for anyone who likes to ponder over the deeper questions of our existence and is fascinated by the very organ asking these questions. Its a thrilling book and can often lead you wondering about the ways of the brain and the mind, and how we perceive reality vs how it actually is.

Extended Review

A human Brain is incredible, fascinating, and powerful. It does all the thinking for us and is the house of our consciousness (most probably), yet it remains mysterious to us.

“Your brain is built of cells called neurons and glia—hundreds of billions of them. Each one of these cells is as complicated as a city. And each one contains the entire human genome and traffics billions of molecules in
intricate economies. Each cell sends electrical pulses to other cells, up to hundreds of times per second. If you represented each of these trillions and trillions of pulses in your brain by a single photon of light, the combined output would be blinding.”
Incognito by David Eagleman

Who is the Decision maker?

The book discusses various questions on who is it that makes the choice? And uncovers the truth behind the functioning of our brain. It mentions that most of our actions and decisions are either unconscious or are motivated by unconscious thoughts.

“As Carl Jung put it, “In each of us there is another whom we do not know.” As Pink Floyd put it, “There’s someone in my head, but it’s not me.””
Incognito by David Eagleman

Brain Plasticity: (the brain will just figure it out)

Our brains are the ultimate adaptive machines and we can learn almost anything with repetition and practice. Some neuroscientists like David Eagleman are able to stretch this idea even more to the possibility of learning to enable us to develop new senses.

So plugging new data streams into the brain is not a theoretical notion; it already exists in various guises. It may seem surprising how easily new inputs can become operable—but, as Paul Bach-y-Rita simply summarized his decades of research, “Just give the brain the information and it will figure it out.”
Incognito by David Eagleman

These theories and possibilities are backed by solid research conducted by David and his team, and various other scientists.

We are not the ones in complete control

Most of the sports work on the notion of practice, which enables us to use our unconscious memory to make decisions as to what to do next.

Imagine playing professional tennis where the ball speeds are around 100-120 mph, and making all the decisions consciously about the ball speed, its spin, the position of the player, and the move he just made. And using all these information to predict where to intercept the ball with your own play and body movements to reach in time.

This feat is almost impossible if we want to do it consciously, its the underlying unconscious machinery that is at play when pros like Rafeal Nadal and Novak Djokovic play near the speeds of 120mph. And this powerful machinery is built by the years of practice.

“This wisdom is apparent even to children, and we find it immortalized in poems such as “The Puzzled Centipede”: A centipede was happy quite, Until a frog in fun Said, “Pray tell which leg comes after which?” This raised her mind to such a pitch, She lay distracted in the ditch Not knowing how to run.”
Incognito by David Eagleman

There are multiple other illusions, biases, and wonders discussed in the book, including the notion of free will among others. Also the fact that other creatures (and other humans) see the world much different than us, and its fun to imagine how the universe may look like from their perspective.

There is so much more the book offers, most discussions are fascinating and awe inspiring. Many discussions hover around philosophy and psychology as well as some discussions on crime and criminal justice in relation to the brain and its diseases/abnormalities.


The field of neuroscience has progressed a lot in the recent decades. It is enabling us to see more into the primary organ that makes our decisions for us. Its a vast and yet to be explored universe, holding secrets to life and consciousness.

Ujjawal Sureka
A Student of life.

PS: If this post resonated with you, let me know in the comments, also share if you think it will be useful to others. Thank you, and have a great day.

All the images in this post are a courtesy of

7 thoughts on “Incognito (a book review)

  1. You come with some fresh and interesting book reviews, with great scope. The brain is exciting because no matter how much we know about it, it often still seems like we know so little. These are cool quotes: “‘As Carl Jung put it, “In each of us there is another whom we do not know.” As Pink Floyd put it, “There’s someone in my head, but it’s not me.’” Your takeaway is cool: “Its a vast and yet to be explored universe, holding secrets to life and consciousness.” Where the mind can take us is never stuck to place or time. That’s the impressive part about it. The past, present, and future is always open to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right about that, the research around brain is too exciting. Yeah, the quotes hit home to me too, an inference to the subconscious/unconscious mind. I appreciate your views on this post. Thanks a lot man! Have a great week 🙌


      1. That’s really an interesting thing to look into: “subconscious/unconscious”, because I think the subconscious thinking is where we achieve some of the greatest things, but it probably takes that training of the conscious mind to get there in the first place. You’re right it’s all exciting and way too complicated at the same time. You have a great week also!

        Liked by 1 person

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