Psychologists and neuroscientists struggle with how best to interpret human motivation and decision making. The assumption is that below a mental “surface” of conscious awareness lies a deep and complex set of inner beliefs, values, and desires that govern our thoughts, ideas, and actions, and that to know this depth is to know ourselves. In the The Mind Is Flat: The Remarkable Shallowness of the Improvising Brain
(Yale UP, 2019), behavioural scientist Nick Chater contends just the opposite: rather than being the plaything of unconscious currents, the brain generates behaviors in the moment based entirely on our past experiences. Engaging the reader with eye-opening experiments and visual examples, Chater first demolishes our intuitive sense of how our mind works, then argues for a positive interpretation of the brain as a ceaseless and creative improviser.
Dr. Nick Chater
is Professor of behavioral science at the Warwick Business School and cofounder of Decision Technology Ltd. He has contributed to more than two hundred articles and book chapters and is author, co-author, or co-editor of fourteen books.
Dr. John Griffiths (@neurodidact) is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, and Head of Whole Brain Modelling at the CAMH Krembil Centre for Neuroinformatics. His research group (www.grifflab.com) works at the intersection of computational neuroscience and neuroimaging, building simulations of human brain activity aimed at improving the understanding and treatment of neuropsychiatric and neurological illness.