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Your Brain Is the World’s Most Proficient Accountant. Here’s How.

Right now, as you read this, your brain is performing a complex series of calculations and predictions designed to efficiently allocate resources such as salt, glucose, and water to the rest of your body. It’s interpreting waves of light, chemicals in the air, and the squiggles on this page, turning them into sights and smells and words. But all of this is in service of your brain’s most vital function: keeping you alive.

“Your brain is constantly running a budget for your body,” says Lisa Feldman Barrett, university distinguished professor of psychology at Northeastern.

And with complex systems including “a cardiovascular system with a heart that pumps blood, a respiratory system that takes in oxygen and eliminates carbon dioxide, and an adaptable immune system that fights infection,” a body budget is far more complex than a single bank account, Barrett writes in her new book,Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain.

“Your brain really functions more like the accounting department of a sizable company,” she says.

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