How Much Brain Do We Really Need?
By Jenny Barnett and Alexis Willett
An entertaining and illuminating romp through the brain's past, present and future in search of an answer to whether we really need all of our brain - Which parts matter most? Could we afford to lose any? Is our brain at its evolutionary peak or do we have an even more brilliant future to look forward to?
How Much Brain Do We Really Need? challenges you to think differently about the brain. Rather than solely concentrating on the many wonderful things the brain can do, it asks whether in fact we can live satisfactorily without some of it.
It turns out that brain shrinkage is no rare thing. While the bad news for all of us is that from our mid-thirties our brains start to shrink, the good news is that somehow we generally still seem to muddle along. But how can this be? Does this mean we don't really need all of our brain?
How Much Brain Do We Really Need? aims to shed light on what the human brain can do - in both optimal and suboptimal conditions, and in the past, present and future - and considers what it may do without. To help you decide 'how much brain we really need?', you'll be presented with facts and figures, case studies and hypothetical scenarios, expert interviews and scientific principles. You'll be taken on a journey from the ancient mists of time to the far reaches of the future, via different species and lands.
This book reflects on why we have so much brain in the first place and what distinguishes us from other species. It considers how we define what a working brain needs to be able to do, from the basics of survival to the highest levels of human achievement. And by looking at what is known about normal variation in brain function and assessing it alongside cases of people who live without a wholly functioning brain, it ponders whether we need so much brain and whether a little bit of shrinkage does us any harm after all. To round things off, the authors dust off their crystal ball to contemplate future possibilities for the human brain.
How Much Brain Do We Really Need? tackles diverse questions, such as: whether brain training or being a 'Super Ager' is the key to healthy ageing; whether drinking coffee or going for run is better for our cognitive performance; whether women really experience the 'baby brain'; whether 'screen time' is ruining our brains; and, of course, whether marmosets make good detectives! Whether you know a lot or little about the brain already, it's hoped that there are things in the book that make you go: 'ooh, that's interesting - I didn't know that'.
Jenny Barnett (Author)
Dr Jenny Barnett is a neuroscientist and psychologist interested in the genetic and environmental causes of brain health and mental illness. Having trained at Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard universities, Jenny has authored more than 50 scientific publications on topics ranging from new treatments for schizophrenia to the economic impact of dementia. She now works at the intersection of academic and industrial research, designing new technologies to help detect, diagnose and treat brain disorders. Her first book, Growing Up Happy, with Alexia Barrable, was published by Robinson in 2016.
Alexis Willett (Author)
Dr Alexis Willett is a science communicator who spends much of her time turning cutting-edge research and health policy jargon into something meaningful for patients, doctors, policy makers and the public. She is often called upon to help influence decision makers, from governments to funding bodies, across the UK and Europe. She has a PhD in biomedical science from the University of Cambridge and, since her partner is a psychiatrist, is used to having her daily conversations dominated by brain-related facts.
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- Publication date:
07 Dec 2017
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