In Search of a Mechanism: From the Brain to the Mind: A Conversation with Chris Frith

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Open Agenda Publishing, Oct 1, 2020 - Psychology - 50 pages

This book is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Chris Frith, Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychology at University College London and Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London. After an interesting exploration of how Chris Frith became interested in the study of schizophrenia, this detailed conversation examines topics such how our understanding of schizophrenia has evolved, the role of dopamine, how the brain works, the brain’s predicting role, the phantom limb phenomenon, how the brain and mind link up, how culture affects the brain and much more.

This carefully-edited book includes an introduction, Eyes on the Prize, and questions for discussion at the end of each chapter:

I. Becoming a Psychologist - From “min and crys” to schizophrenia

II. Probing Agency - Predictions, tickling and dopamine

III. The Active Brain - The principal actor in the theatre of experience

IV. Ideal Bayesian Operators - How our brains trump our minds

V. In Search of a Mechanism - How to connect the subpersonal with the personal

VI. Humanistic Hubris - Dancing bees, stripping pine cones and The Royal Society

VII. Free Will - And what it means

VIII. The Very Big Picture - Towards a grand unified theory of psychology?

IX. Final Thoughts - Schizophrenia treatment and open questions

About Ideas Roadshow Conversations Series: 

This book is part of an expanding series of 100+ Ideas Roadshow conversations, each one presenting a wealth of candid insights from a leading expert through a focused yet informal setting to give non-specialists a uniquely accessible window into frontline research and scholarship that wouldn't otherwise be encountered through standard lectures and textbooks. For other books in this series visit our website (


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A Note on the Text
The Conversation
Becoming a Psychologist
Probing Agency
The Active Brain
Ideal Bayesian Operators
In Search of a Mechanism
Humanistic Hubris
Free Will
The Very Big Picture
Final Thoughts

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About the author (2020)

Howard Burton, the founder and creator of Ideas Roadshow and Ideas on Film, holds a PhD in theoretical physics and an MA in philosophy. He was the Founding Executive Director of Canada’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) from 1999-2007. During his time at PI, he also developed an extensive outreach programme for teachers, students and the general public. His experiences at developing the research and outreach mandates of the institute were described in the book First Principles: Building Perimeter Institute, featuring a foreword by renowned theoretical physicist Roger Penrose.

Ideas Roadshow is an award-winning initiative, recipient of the London Book Fair International Excellence Award in 2018. Howard has hosted and filmed in-depth conversations with more than 100 of the world’s brightest thinkers, including 3 Nobel Laureates, across the arts, sciences, sports and games.

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