Key Points

Mental Models are cognitive filters for extracting different kinds of information from phenomena in our world. In Charlie Munger’s words, they form a “latticework of theory” upon which we can hang facts about the world.

The more models we have, the more information we can extract, the more knowledge we can acquire from data, the better our problem solving and ability to find something meaningful and useful in a particular observation.

In this opening series of episodes, we will be covering some key mental models that relate to Cognitive Neuroscience, so that we can better understand cognitive phenomena, and to have a framework for understanding the claims I’ll be making in this podcast.

Our first mental model is “Hardware & Software”: We can think of our efforts to improve brain function as being directed towards two primary categories. The first category is “hardware,” or the physical substance of the brain. The second category is the “software,” or the programs that we create, through learning and memory, to run on that hardware.

Given the relative neglect of the impact of brain health and the ways in which it is compromised in today’s world, first addressing the biological operation of the brain will typically yield the greatest return on initial investment.

Links, etc:

The Brainjo Collective, a community of lifelong learners
The Farnam Street blog and The Knowledge Project podcast
Wilson’s Disease findings

The “wing beating” rubral tremor

MRI brain with basal ganglia hyperintensities

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, by Oliver Sacks

The Grid Illusion – Knowing that the black dots can’t change the fact that you see them.

The Necker Cube – An ambiguous illusion where you can experience more than one face as the front one, but can never experience both as being in front simultaneously.

The Spinning Girl – Another ambiguous illusion. For some, the girl below rotates counterclockwise. For others, clockwise. Look at her for a bit and she may changes directions.

“Yanni” or “Laurel” – Listen to the clip below. Do you hear “Yanni” or “Laurel”


David was a graduate student in his late 20s who, for most of his life, had been in excellent health. Aside from the normal anxieties and insecurities that most kids experience, he’d not had any signs of mental illness growing up. Around the age of 27, though, that began to change. It started with the hand washing.

Whereas previously he hadn’t been much of a germophobe, he now felt compelled to wash his hands all the time, well over 50 times in a single day. And then the mood swings began. One day he’d be fine, the next unable to make it out of bed, where he’d stay for the day, missing class, not eating.

Ultimately, at the urging of his parents, he started to see a psychiatrist. He was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder and bipolar and prescribed multiple pharmaceuticals: SSRIs, SNRIs, mood stabilizers. This sometimes helped to lessen the intensity of the compulsions, but nothing was sustained. When he first came to see me, he was on Effexor, Wellbutrin, and Depakote.

At one point, he mentioned to his psychiatrist that his hands had started shaking. The psychiatrist then referred him to see a neurologist to evaluate him for a possible Depakote-related tremor.

When David first came to the office, he had a reserved but very pleasant demeanor, trying his best to engage in perfunctory conversation. But it was clear he was fighting a terrible battle on the inside. He repeatedly picked at the skin of his neck and face.

Multiple open sores indicated that this wasn’t a new habit. Though he was in the clinic for me to assess his tremor, he related his recent struggles with depression and compulsive behaviors. “Do you ever find yourself counting your steps?” I asked. “Yes, all the time.” His eye examination was notable for some peculiar brown-tinged rings around the outer portion of the iris.

His arms trembled when they were outstretched in front of him. “Hold your arms up like this,” I instructed, “like you have wings.” He bent his elbows and raised his arms and, within seconds, they began flapping like a bird. An MRI scan of his brain showed abnormal areas of increased T2 signal in the basal ganglia on both sides of the brain, an area intimately involved with the control of movement.

Blood work showed abnormally low levels of ceruloplasmin, confirming the diagnosis of Wilson’s disease. He was subsequently placed on chelation therapy to remove the excess copper from his blood. One year later he was back to himself, off of all pharmaceuticals, and his compulsive hand-washing, skin-picking, and step-counting had resolved.

Hi, I’m Dr. Josh Turknett, founder of Brainjo and the Brainjo Center for Neurology & Cognitive Enhancement, and this is the Intelligence Unshackled Podcast. Join me as we take a tour through the human brain to explore and understand the true nature and scope of human intelligence and to unlock the secrets of optimizing brain health and function.

In this initial phase of the podcast, I’m going to have several episodes devoted to describing some of the foundational mental models from cognitive neuroscience that will help to frame and understand some of the central claims of this podcast, particularly the claim that we have an incomplete understanding of the nature and scope of human intelligence.

Before I talk more about the case I just described, which I’ll use to illustrate our first mental model, I first want to talk about what I mean by a “mental model.” Some of you may be familiar with the term. It’s gotten a little bit fashionable right now. And while my natural inclination is usually to go against the herd, this is an idea that I do find really useful. Also, because it has become fashionable, it’s been used somewhat indiscriminately, so people may mean different things when they use the term “mental model.” So I’m going to explain how I’ll be using it here.

The concept is often associated with Charlie Munger, the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffett’s right-hand man. Both Munger and Buffett are voracious readers and spend much of their day just doing that, and both attribute their success to that particular habit. Charlie Munger has said that the way in which reading contributes to his success is through the creation of multiple mental models and how they are essential to analyzing information and making good decisions.

In a speech in the ’90s, he gave the following quote related to mental models:

“Well, the first rule is that you can’t really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try and bang them back. If the facts don’t hang together on a latticework of theory, you don’t have them in a usable form.

You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience, both vicarious and direct, on this latticework of models. You may have noticed students who just try to remember and pound back what is remembered. Well, they fail in school and in life. You’ve got to hang experience on a latticework of models in your head.

I think that’s a nice description of mental models, albeit a little bit harsh. But it’s really, in essence, a way of improving your ability to learn from experience. I certainly wish many professors and teachers that I had over the years, including most of the ones in medical school, understood the importance of providing mental models or a latticework of theory to hang facts on, rather than presenting fact after fact without any type of organizing structure.

Essentially, mental models are filters that we can use to analyze and make sense of information. To use an example from neuroscience, think about how the brain processes a face. Ultimately, to recognize someone’s face, we have to take photons of light that are bouncing off of someone’s face through our pupils and onto our retina and then extract some kind of meaning from that. After those photons are translated into an electrical signal in the brain, that signal is then run through multiple layers of information processing governed by specific neural networks that are running in sequence and in parallel, and each layer is extracting a particular kind of information.

At the earlier levels of processing, you may have contrast-detecting units, for example, that are just finding where there are abrupt transitions in light intensity so they can detect things like where the edges are. Further up the processing chain, you may have a human-face-recognizing network that assimilates multiple elements together to tell you whether or not you’re seeing a human face in front of you.

You may have other filters for analyzing whether it’s a male or female face, or another filter for analyzing the emotional content of the face, whether it’s a happy, sad, angry face. The point being that, with that initial set of information that hits the retina and it’s sent onward for processing in the brain, the more kinds of filters that the brain has for processing it, the more information that can be extracted from that initial signal.

So if we don’t have any kind of filter for emotional analysis, for example, then we’d be unable to distinguish the emotional content of a face, which means that the potential amount of information that we can acquire from any given face is diminished. In fact, we wouldn’t even be aware that that sort of information existed at all.

Similarly, for someone who’s born unable to see or hear, there’s no conception of a loss but rather a lack of awareness that such a thing even exists. So for someone who’s blind, there are still photons bouncing around in the world, but a blind person lacks the apparatus to perceive them. There are still air pressure waves, but those changes can’t be translated into sound in someone who’s deaf. And even amongst us humans who can see, we only perceive a narrow sliver of the electromagnetic spectrum, which also raises the question of how much more exists out there in the world that we’re totally blind to because we lack the apparatus to sense and interpret it.

So mental models are like a kind of filter, except that they operate purely in the realm of abstraction. They operate when we’re trying to understand phenomena in our world. And it’s also analogous to the difference between rules and principles, with a model being analogous to a principle, and a rule being analogous to a specific application of that principle, or “facts,” as Charlie Munger refers to it.

So the more models you have, the more information you can extract, the more knowledge that you can acquire from data, and the better your problem-solving ability and the better your ability to find something meaningful and useful in any given observation. For example, does this face belong to a human? To a man? Is it sad? Is it honest? The more mental models we have, the more sophisticated our skills of interpretation about the world around us. And as Munger states in his quote, models also help us to simplify the complex by abstracting out the governing principles.

As another example, say I’m at work in my office, and my colleague Bill stops in and says, “Boy, Josh, that sure is an ugly tie.” If my only explanatory framework is that people are one way all the time based on who they are and jerks make inappropriate statements, therefore Bill is a jerk, then that’s my only conclusion or that’s my only explanation that I’m able to provide for Bill’s behavior. Much in the same way that if I have no ability to analyze the emotional content of a face, I can’t perceive any emotion in that face, and I’m not even aware that that kind of information is even out there to be extracted.

On the other hand, if I also have a mental model for human behavior that includes context-dependent behavior, and I have a mental model for impulsive behavior, and I know that the frontal lobes are constantly suppressing all sorts of things that we might want to do, and that things like hunger and sleep deprivation reduce our frontal lobe’s ability to do so, then I may well think, “Maybe John’s a jerk, or maybe he’s just hungry.” So again, the more mental models we have, the better or more robust our explanations become.

I think that some of the limitations or oversights in the conventional prevailing theory of intelligence stems from not having certain models that would allow for competing explanations for certain phenomena. And some of that, of course, is due to us being specialized into different fields. Now, you may have realized that the concept of a mental model itself is a mental model. The very idea that the more cognitive filters you have, the better your skills of analysis and problem solving is in and of itself a mental model, not to get too disturbingly meta on you.

So the goal here with this initial set of episodes is through mental models to create a latticework of theory with respect to cognitive neuroscience. And I’m quite certain that these will not be a complete set of models and there are more that we haven’t discovered yet, which means that, just as we are blind to the electromagnetic spectrum outside of visible light, we are inevitably going to be blind to certain things that pertain to human cognition and intelligence.

As an aside, Shane Parrish, who writes the Farnam Street blog and hosts the Knowledge Project Podcast, has also done a great job of popularizing the idea of mental models and their utility. I highly recommend subscribing to his weekly newsletter if you don’t already.

This podcast is brought to you by the Brainjo Collective. The Brainjo Collective is a community of like-minded people interested in furthering our understanding of the brain and translating that knowledge into ways we can release potential, protect the integrity of our brain over the course of our lifespan, and create lives of lasting fulfillment and wellbeing. Members of the Collective receive access to a private forum moderated by a team of advisors including myself.

By becoming a member of the Collective, you’ll also be supporting the research and production costs of this podcast so that it can always remain free from advertisements. So if you like to geek out on cognitive neuroscience and the optimization of brain health and function, I’d love to have you as part of the Collective. To learn more about it and to join, just head over to

As I mentioned in the opening episode, this podcast is about identifying the ways in which human intelligence is constrained, so these are the metaphorical shackles that limit cognitive capacity. I’d argue that there are three, or at least three, primary constraints right now.

One of those constraints is our limiting beliefs, so not appreciating just how plastic the brain is or how much capacity there is for growth and change throughout our lifespan. The second, that our current conception of the nature and scope of human intelligence is incomplete and that our prevailing theory of intelligence doesn’t account for many observations from the realm of neurology and beyond, which we’ll be exploring in significant depth.

And third, that the biological foundation of the brain is compromised in our modern world, largely because of mismatches between our ancestral and our present environment. But this third reason, that our intelligence and our cognitive function could be limited by impairments in the biological function of the brain, first requires that we acknowledge the biological reality of all of human cognition.

In other words, we must acknowledge that the brain is the mind.
The related mental model, which is our first official one, is that of hardware and software. We can think of our efforts to improve brain function as being directed towards one of these two primary categories, the first being hardware, or the physical substance of the brain, and the second being the software, or the programs that we create through learning and memory to run on that hardware.

When we’re born, we all have this general-purpose learning machinery upon which we can construct all sorts of programs for operating the body. As anyone who’s interacted with an infant recently knows, there’s not much beyond the basic life-sustaining functions present when we’re born. So the rest of our lives are about adding programs to that hardware. Some of those programs, like the ones for walking and talking and social behaviors are added, in part, based on a developmental learning script. And then the rest we essentially create on our own, according to our needs.

But again, the central point of this mental model is that the mental function and subjective experience are all rooted in the biological apparatus of the brain. In the field of neuroscience, this is a foundational and well-supported claim, but it hasn’t always been the case. The question of where the mind comes from was a total mystery for almost all of human history and perplexed scientists and philosophers for years.

For most of human history, we really had no idea what the brain did. We had this experience of our mental life and, while we knew that there was this organ inside the head, we didn’t know what it did, and it certainly didn’t feel to us, and it still doesn’t feel, like the mind could come from a physical organ. So before we began to understand what the brain did, people came up with all sorts of ideas and explanations about our mind and where it came from. So while the material reality of the mind may seem obvious to many of us now, it wasn’t always so.

The broad acceptance in the scientific community that the brain and mind are really one happened very recently in the grand scheme of things. Really, the beginning of behavioral neurology and cognitive neuroscience, or the science of how the operation of the brain leads to cognitive phenomena, began in 1861 with Paul Broca’s descriptions of how disturbances in certain parts of the brain led to specific deficits in language function.

Some of you may be familiar with the term “Broca’s aphasia,” which describes a particular kind of language disturbance that results from disruption in the posterior part of the frontal lobe in the dominant hemisphere. This was the first anatomical proof of a link between brain anatomy and cognitive function.

One reason why the mystery of the mind persisted for so long was because of our technological limitations. We were just limited in our ability to understand what the brain was doing, and that’s a big part of why cognitive neuroscience is still a relatively immature field in the realm of sciences. But I think another reason, besides the technological limitations, is simply due to the power of the mind-body illusion.

Our subjective experience, whether it’s the feeling of joy or anger or the experience of what it’s like to see a sunrise or the color blue, just doesn’t feel connected in any way to anything material. It feels like a total abstraction. So intuitively, when we try to map on that experience which feels immaterial onto something physical, like the brain, it doesn’t make any type of intuitive sense. And there’s absolutely no way to make it feel right, much in the same way that it’s impossible for us to intuitively experience time as relative, as Einstein showed us it was and that subsequent experiments confirmed.

Even still, we can’t change our intuitions about it because we’re unable to get behind those intuitions. All we can experience are the sensations that the brain generates for us. Our brain presents a construction of reality to us, which we experience, and that construction includes our intuitions. And just as we can’t decide what visual representation the world will take at any given moment, we can’t decide what intuitions we’ll have. They’re just there, and we can’t peer underneath them because they’re inextricably part of what we perceive the world through.

Various sensory illusions are a great illustration of this idea. I’m sure plenty of you are familiar with visual illusions. Neuroscientists love them, and they’ve contributed a lot to our understanding of how the brain works, because seeing how the brain makes mistakes gives you a nice window into how it’s operating. One of the more famous visual illusions is the grid illusion, which I’m sure many of you have seen. It consists of a grid of black boxes, and you will see these illusory circles in the spaces between the boxes that don’t actually exist.

There’s also a category of illusions known as “ambiguous” illusions, where what you perceive will switch between one thing and another. One example is the Necker cube, where the different faces of the cube, what you perceive as being front and back, will flip. There’s also a more recent one that was kind of a viral illusion, the spinning dancer. It’s an image of a woman dancer, and she’s spinning in one direction. Some people perceive the spinning as counter-clockwise, and some perceive it as clockwise. And then, for some, the rotation will switch back and forth.

In all of these illusions, nothing is changing with the actual image or the external reality or the arrangement of photons hitting your retina, but your brain’s construction of that reality is what’s changing. And despite knowing that certain things don’t exist or that the image shouldn’t be changing, you are entirely unable to perceive it any other way. Another one of my favorites that recently went viral was the Yanny-Laurel audio snippet.

It was a piece of audio that some people would hear the word “Yanny,” and some people would hear the world “Laurel,” which sound nothing like each other. Once again, the actual audio was the same for everybody, but what the brain constructed was different, depending on whose brain it was.

Again, it just shows us that we don’t get to choose what our brain constructs for us, and we can only perceive what it gives us. And we know with these illusions that what it’s giving us is not the ground truth but an edited version of it. No matter how much we know that what we’re seeing or hearing is illusory, we can’t make it go away. We can’t experience the “true” reality because all we get to experience, by definition, is what our brain constructs for us to perceive. In fact, it’s remarkable we’ve even been able to determine that there is such a thing as an underlying reality different than our perceptions, that all is not what it appears.

But these constructions that our brain gives us includes all of our conscious experience, including our mental life, which doesn’t feel anything like something in the physical world. And even those of us like myself, who fully recognize that the brain is the mind, still can’t feel this to be true. The illusion is too complete, and there are no holes in it. So just like any other illusion, there’s just no way to feel any other way about it, as much as we understand it to be true on an intellectual level.

But we have abundant evidence that the brain is the mind, and this certainly becomes clear, as a neurologist, where you see the direct connection between biology and behavior every day, in the same way that we have evidence that Einstein’s conception of time is true, even though we don’t perceive it this way, and just as we know that, with any of these illusions I described, that what we’re seeing is not the ground truth.

Ultimately, our mind and our mental life and our ability to form abstract ideas about the world was an evolutionary adaptation for utility, or usefulness, and it gave us the ability to manipulate information that was temporally disconnected from the world around us that was independent of our current reality. Our ability to manipulate ideas in our imagination was certainly one of the evolutionary leaps that contributed to the success of our species.

Since the mind was created primarily for utility, and an ability to intuitively grasp how a brain could produce a mind serves no adaptive purpose, it’s not surprising that we don’t have that intuition. And that’s why intuitions about phenomena in our world will not always necessarily line up with what’s actually true, in particular, in cases where what the useful intuition is is not aligned with what’s actually true. And like I said earlier, there are probably many, many other areas where we don’t even realize our intuitions are wrong, and those areas have yet to be discovered.

As I mentioned in the last episode, neuroscience is kind of the last great frontier in the major sciences with much still to be discovered and understood. We still don’t have a robust theory or explanation of how the mind emerges from the brain, though we’ve certainly made progress. Some people have the mistaken impression that the fact that we don’t have an explanation falsifies the claim that the brain is the mind.

To illustrate why that would be a mistake, imagine I’m an alien and I’m given a refrigerator. I see that every time I put something in the refrigerator, it gets cold after a while. I’m intrigued by this, but for the life of me, I can’t explain how it works or even conceive of how this thing could make whatever I put into it cold. But my failure to explain it shouldn’t lead me to discard the observation altogether or to conclude that things must not get cold when they’re placed in the fridge. It only means that my explanations are still inadequate.

This is where things stand now with our understanding of the connection between the brain and the mind, and it’s what makes the field so interesting and exciting. So while we know that the brain is the mind, just like we know that when you stick something in a refrigerator, it gets cold, our explanations of how the brain produces the mind are still inadequate. And the great quest is to continue to improve our explanations of how that happens.

My own interest in the brain really began when I was in my early teens. I read several books on the subject, and I did a science fair project on it. But it really wasn’t until I read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks, which I did as a freshman in college, that I fully appreciated this idea that the brain and mind weren’t just kind of connected, but that the brain was the mind, and they were just two ways of describing the same thing. Prior to that, I don’t really think I had had any real model for how it all worked. It just kind of seemed fuzzy and hard to make sense of.

So it was after reading that book that I fully understood that, with perfect knowledge of the brain, we could understand the totality of our mental life, that everything that went on inside my head, every cognitive operation, every thought, was the product of signaling between the cells of the brain. For me, it was an incredibly thrilling moment when the full weight of that sunk in, and was a big part of why I ultimately decided to pursue a career in the neurosciences.
There are two reasons why this hardware/software model is so important to know.

The first is just for understanding brain function, so we’ll be discussing the relationship between brain and mind and behavior throughout this podcast. The second is because enhancing and protecting our mental function requires that we know where that mental function comes from, in other words, the brain, so that we take good care of the thing that produces our mental function and don’t overlook the biological reality of it.

One of the reasons for bringing up the mind-body illusion here is because I think it, at least in parts, explains our relative neglect of brain health overall. I think it’s safe to say that maintaining the health of our mind and our cognitive function is a top priority for virtually everyone and one of people’s greatest fears about getting older. But when people talk about keeping their heart or their lungs healthy, they think about things like eating right, not smoking, exercising, so things that impact the biological function of those organs.

But relatively speaking, rarely do people talk about those sorts of things when it comes to improving cognition or intellectual function. Instead, they might talk about doing crosswords or learning a language and so forth, so things that operate at the level the mind, which can help for sure, but not realizing that, first and foremost, the brain and the mind is a biological entity. So it doesn’t make sense to do things like crossword puzzles to improve the integrity of your mind and your cognitive function if you’re not physically active or optimizing sleep and so on, but I see this kind of thing all the time.

There are so many things that we can do to both protect the health of the brain and improve cognitive performance that are purely aimed at improving its biological operation. In fact, in working with clients who want to improve cognitive function and performance, this is almost always going to be the best place to start, largely because it’s so commonly overlooked. So this is where you’re going to get the biggest return on initial investment in changes that you make. So assessing and then improving the biological function of the brain is almost always going to be the first step in improving someone’s cognitive function.

I also don’t know how else to explain a world where we consistently wake children up hours before their brain is ready so that we can develop their intelligence, which is such a tragic kind of irony. There are few things as disruptive to a developing brain, which is the engine of our intelligence, than sleep deprivation. Yet I think that that irony and that contradiction just doesn’t sink in unless you fully appreciate the brain-mind equivalence and that the health of the brain and its biological operation directly impacts the quality of the mind.

I also think it’s partly due to the resilience of our brain how we can do so many things that disrupt its biological operation while it’s still able to maintain some degree of function. And also how we don’t perceive incremental changes, so we can continue to do things over the years that undermine the brain’s biological operation but be largely unaware of its impact on our cognition because the brain, unlike a computer, doesn’t break down completely when it’s disrupted, and because we adapt to gradual changes.

So it’s only when you remove all of those impediments by attending to brain health that you appreciate just how impactful they’ve been. That’s certainly what happened to me several years ago when I overhauled my own diet and lifestyle in a way to reduce environmental mismatches, which we’ll talk in depth about soon. And in fact, part of the motivation for doing this whole project was because I want more people to get to know what it’s like to have a brain whose biological foundation is operating as it should, or at least closer to as it should, rather than being constantly undermined

By the same token, the brain is also unique amongst our organs in that we can enhance its function and performance and even, it appears, its health on the software side as well, so through learning of various types, which is one reason it’s so magical. So a comprehensive approach to improving brain health and function involves the consideration of both the hardware and software elements.

Now, back to our original case with David, our gentleman who had been referred to a neurologist for tremors and who ended up having Wilson’s disease, a condition caused by a genetic mutation that leads to an excess of copper in the blood. That copper can accumulate in the tissues, most commonly in the liver and the brain. And in the brain, for reasons that we don’t really understand, it tends to accumulate in a structure called the “basal ganglia.”

We know that disease in the basal ganglia can lead to things like tremor, and it’s primarily involved in Parkinson’s disease. But we also know that it plays a role in conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder. So the entirety of David’s mental illness, the compulsions, the mood swings, were due to the impact of copper on circuits in his brain.

Now, as I discussed, even the idea that pathology in the brain could lead to these sorts of changes in the psyche or in mental life and behavior wasn’t even in the realm of possibly until relatively recently in history. Collectively, we had no mental model for hardware and software, so it was a complete blind spot. Now we realize that all psychiatric disturbances are ultimately a biological phenomenon, the complexity of which we still hardly understand, despite our cultural fetish for explaining behavior in terms of neurotransmitters.

But the truth is, with perfect knowledge of the brain, we could describe all of the psyche and all of disturbances of the psyche in terms of disturbances in brain physiology. And with perfect knowledge of the brain, the two fields of neurology and psychiatry would merge into one. The reason we still need psychological models of behavior is because our understanding of the connection between brain and mind is still incomplete.

But the truth is, with perfect knowledge of the brain, we could describe all phenomena of the psyche and all disturbances in psychiatric function in terms of disturbances in brain physiology. So with perfect knowledge of the brain, the fields of psychiatry and neurology would merge into one. The reason we still need psychological models of behavior is because our understanding of the connection between brain and mind is still incomplete.

And of course, that’s an ongoing and active research area right now, but doing that research to begin with, which hopefully will lead to new ways to reduce suffering, requires us to first have this hardware and software model or to acknowledge the biological reality of the mind and the psyche. Also, this case with David and Wilson’s disease illustrates the importance of mental models to begin with. So as I mentioned earlier, the more models we have, the greater our ability to understand phenomena in our world. This applies to doctors, as well. The more diagnostic possibilities we can entertain, the better our chances of making an accurate diagnosis.

In this particular case, without the hardware/software model or without an understanding that the brain is the mind, I’d have been searching for all manner of nonbiological explanations for David’s behavior, none of which would have ever led to the best solution. And in fact, this was the tragic reality for many years in history when we didn’t realize that the brain was the mind and thought that it had something to do with immaterial spirits and so on.

Over the years, various conditions that were thought to be afflictions of the psyche or the mind, things like epilepsy and psychosis or schizophrenia, were attributed to things like demonic possession. And those individuals were often treated horribly as historical episodes, like the Salem witch trials, attest. And that’s precisely because of the ignorance that these afflictions were pathologies of the brain and fundamentally no different. And those sorts of things wouldn’t have happened if there was the awareness that those afflictions of the psyche or the mind were pathologies of the brain and fundamentally no different than pathologies of the heart or the lungs.

Okay, so that wraps up this episode. Remember that you can find a summary of the key points of every episode along with links to other things mentioned, including in this episode the illusions that I discussed earlier, as well as the characteristic MRI findings and wing-beating tremor of Wilson’s disease, by going to the central headquarters for this podcast at and clicking on the podcast link on the top menu. You’ll also find an episode transcript there, as well.

Thank you so much for listening, and if you’re enjoying this podcast, it’d be fantastic if you left a rating and review in iTunes. It really does help. I’ll see you in the next episode.

Episode 2: Hardware & Software

2 thoughts on “Episode 2: Hardware & Software

  • November 13, 2018 at 9:16 pm

    The mental model discussion reminded me of a quote:

    “Science is built of facts the way a house is built of bricks: but an accumulation of facts is no more science than a pile of bricks is a house” (Henri Poincaré).

    • November 26, 2018 at 4:37 pm

      Yes, that’s great – very appropriate.

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