Caltech is one of the world’s leading centers of neuroscience, and I am lucky to count one of Caltech’s shining lights, Christof Koch, among my good friends. In 2006, just a few years after the birth of the field of social neuroscience, I began speaking to Christof about a possible book on the unconscious mind. He invited me into his lab as a guest, and for much of the next five years I observed as Christof, his students and postdocs, and fellow faculty members, especially Ralph Adolphs, Antonio Rangel, and Mike Tyszka, studied the human mind. Over those years, I read and digested more than eight hundred academic research papers. I sat in on seminars on subjects such as the neuroscience of memory, concept cells in the human visual system, and the cortical structures that allow us to identify faces. I volunteered for experiments in which fMRI images were made of my brain as I looked at photos of junk food, and as I listened to strange sounds projected into my ear. I took courses such as the wonderful “Brains, Minds, and Society,” “The Neurobiology of Emotion,” and “The Molecular Basis of Behavior.” I attended conferences on topics such as “The Biological Origins of Human Group Behavior.” And, with few exceptions, I attended the weekly Koch lab lunches, where I feasted on great food, and listened to discussions of the latest cutting-edge advances and gossip in neuroscience. Through it all, Christof and his colleagues in the Caltech neuroscience program have been generous with their time, inspiring with their passion, and patient with their explanations. I think neither Christof nor I could have imagined, when I first approached him, that he would be investing as much effort as he did teaching neuroscience to a physicist. I owe this book to his mentorship and generosity of spirit.
As always, I would also like to thank Susan Ginsburg, my agent, friend, critic, advocate, and cheerleader extraordinaire, and my editor Edward Kastenmeier for his steady guidance, patience, and clear view of the book’s vision. And to their colleagues, Dan Frank, Stacy Testa, Emily Giglierano, and Tim O’Connell, for their advice, support, and problem-solving skills. I’d also like to thank my wonderful copy editor, Bonnie Thompson, for keeping me in line. Finally, thanks to those who read and commented on parts of the book. To Donna Scott, my wife and in-house editor, who read version after version and always provided honest and very perceptive input, and never threw the manuscript at me, no matter how many drafts I asked her to read; to Beth Rashbaum, whose sage editorial advice I also treasure; to Ralph Adolphs, who over many a beer gave profound input regarding the scientific content; and to all those other friends and colleagues who read part or all of the manuscript and provided useful suggestions and input. They include: Christof, Ralph, Antonio, Mike, Michael Hill, Mili Milosavljevic, Dan Simons, Tom Lyon, Seth Roberts, Kara Witt, Heather Berlin, Mark Hillery, Cynthia Harrington, Rosemary Macedo, Fred Rose, Todd Doersch, Natalie Roberge, Alexei Mlodinow, Jerry Webman, Tracey Alderson, Martin Smith, Richard Cheverton, Catherine Keefe, and Patricia McFall. And finally to my family, for their love and support, and for all the times they held dinner an extra hour or two until I got home.