Adventures of a Psychologist : Reflections on What Made Up the Mind book cover
1st Edition

Adventures of a Psychologist
Reflections on What Made Up the Mind

ISBN 9780367821500
Published December 7, 2020 by Routledge
138 Pages

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Book Description

In this enlightening biography, award- winning academic psychologist Michael Corballis tells the story of how the field of cognitive psychology evolved and the controversies and anecdotes that occurred along the way.

Since the Second World War, psychology has undergone several scientific movements, from behaviourism to cognitive psychology and finally to neuroscience. In this fascinating biography, Corballis recounts his career as a researcher who played a part in these monumental changes in psychology. Beginning with his boarding-school education in New Zealand, Corballis goes on to recount his PhD studies and behavioural research into mirror-image discriminations in pigeons, the uprising of the "cognitive revolution" amidst 1960s counterculture and his switch to become a cognitive psychologist, his research into brain asymmetry and the evolution of language and its origin of manual gestures, and the development of mental time travel in animals.

Featuring stories of prominent scientists who were integral in psychology’s biggest discoveries and insight into the heated debates and controversies in psychology during a time of great scientific and sociocultural change, this biography is a must-read for those interested in how psychology became established as a science.

Table of Contents


  1. Growing Up
  2. Floundering at University
  3. Hello Psychology
  4. O God! O Montreal!
  5. Rats and Pigeons
  6. Revolutions
  7. The Lopsided Brain
  8. Doing the Splits
  9. Mirrors
  10. Gestures, Gestures
  11. On Time
  12. Chomsky, God, and Language
  13. Professional Psychology and its Discontents
  14. Anti-science
  15. A Brief Reckoning

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Michael Corballis was Professor of Psychology at McGill University and the University of Auckland. He has published widely in experimental psychology and cognitive neuroscience. In 2003 he was appointed Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, and in 2016 he received the Rutherford Medal, New Zealand’s top scientific award.


"Michael Corballis is among the world’s deepest and most creative cognitive scientists, and he illuminates every subject he takes on with insight, wit, and charm. We’re fortunate that he has stepped back to and applied these gifts to the science of mind." —Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and the author of How the Mind Works.

"Librarians will struggle to decide which shelf to put this book on. Autobiography, yes, with fascinating history of Corballis’ own route from sheep farm to academic cognitive neuroscience. History of psychology, also, with personal experience of the competing movements that have swung the discipline about—behaviourism, the cognitive revolution, left-wing politics, postmodernism—all discussed with clarity and humour, but always including constructive argument for how science should be done. And above all else, this is entertainment: Corballis is never ponderous, but sets out important issues and serious life events with modesty and a light-touch which makes it a pleasurable read and a hard book to put down." —Richard Byrne, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of St Andrews.

"Sex may be the ever interesting topic, as they say, but it is closely followed by biography, especially autobiography (though nowadays we seem to prefer the term "memoir"), as we can learn so much about ourselves from seeing how others have fared. And what better than the brain/mind interface? And who better a guide than Prof Michael Corballis, a towering figure in neuropsychology for over half a century of prolific, masterful and ever enthralling writing?" —John L. Bradshaw, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Monash University, and the author of Reflections of a Neuropsychologist.