Talking Heads: The New Science of How Conversation Shapes Our Worlds

Posted on: 10 August 2023

Shane O’Mara, Professor of Experimental Brain Research in Trinity College Dublin’s School of Psychology and Institute of Neuroscience, published his new book, Talking Heads: The New Science of How Conversation Shapes Our Worlds. Talking Heads is a stunning survey of the science of human connection and communication - from neurons to nations.

About the book

We are social animals and talking is a defining part of what makes us human. Chatting with friends or debating the future, we move through life in a state of near-constant dialogue, bridging the gap between our inner and outer worlds.

But what purposes does conversation serve? In this revelatory tour of the science of talking, Professor O'Mara explores how and why we communicate, what is happening in our brains when we do it, and what it means for us as individuals, groups and societies. Our brains create our realities, but we shape them by talking.

How do our thoughts, memories, and conversations change the very fabric of our brains? What does it mean that we spend the majority of our thinking lives in a five-minute bubble around the present moment? Why does our sense of self solidify with age, even as we become more forgetful? How does our default mode of trusting what others say both influence life as we know it and empower us to effect change? What does it mean to say we imagine futures together? And how do our very nations begin as conversations?

Moving from the personal to the social and ultimately towards a radical new perspective on the defining phenomenon of our times, populist nationalism, this is the story of how conversation builds the worlds around us - and how, together, we can talk our way into a better tomorrow.

About the author

Shane O'Mara is Professor of Experimental Brain Research at Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin. He is Principal Investigator in, and was director of, the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, one of Europe's leading research centres for neuroscience, as well as being a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator and a Science Foundation Ireland Principal Investigator. He is the author of Why Torture Doesn't Work, A Brain for Business and In Praise of Walking. His musings on neuroscience, psychology and life can be found at the substack Brain Pizza.




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