The Secret Life of the Brain

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9780309074353: The Secret Life of the Brain

Describes the working of the human brain at five stages of life: baby, child, adolescent, adult, and senior.

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Book Description:

Ten years ago a presidential proclamation ushered in the “Decade of the Brain.” We have since realized enormous benefits from this decade of discovery. Scientists now have a better understanding and appreciation of the complexity of this rather unassuming three-pound mass of interwoven cells. Over the years, we have gleaned insights into how the brain functions, physically and chemically. We have even seen evidence of how a healthy brain contributes to our overall sense of wellness. And perhaps most important of all, we now—more than ever—recognize the awesome power and potential of the human brain.

Each of the brain’s developmental stages provides its own opportunities and perils. Each is part of a marvelous narrative—opening at the very moment of conception, building to peak adult neurological performance when the brain contains its full repertoire of cells, and slowly edging toward the denouement of old age. The Secret Life of the Brain tells this fascinating story by tracing the patterns that only careful study has revealed to us.

Equal parts fragile and tenacious, development continues unabated across the entire life span through five specific stages: gestation, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. In each of these phases, the opportunities are abundant, while the dangers remain equally apparent. Deprive a baby’s brain of light and sound and human contact, and you stunt normal development. Should a teenager take drugs, the brain becomes contaminated by the unnatural chemicals that are introduced into the body. Like a muscle in our arms or legs, if we ignore the brain, leave it untended, it becomes flaccid and slow, especially as we move into old age, when the brain is more vulnerable to afflictions.

The Secret Life of the Brain explores each of these five stages in detail. Like the PBS series of the same name, the complex subject of leading-edge brain science is presented in terms accessible to all and brought to life through anecdotes and real-life stories. Told by best-selling author Dr. Richard Restak, the majesty and the mystery of human intelligence are unveiled.

From the Inside Flap:

Throughout human history, poets, philosophers, and scientists have lauded the formidable power of the human brain. The sensible companion to every aching heart, the very seat of human intelligence, the brain has successfully hoarded its most precious secrets for millennia. But years of intensive research and a host of new technologies have yielded stunning insights into how the brain develops and functions. As we continue to add to our knowledge, we remain in awe of the brain’s enormous potential, while never losing sight of its frailties.

The journey begins with the brain's riot of growth in infancy and childhood, when our burgeoning abilities to move, communicate, and think are rapidly developing. Following nature’s course, the tumult of adolescence gradually gives way to a new-found balance as the brain sets about shaping its connections for mature planning and judgment. Throughout adulthood, the brain plays a quiet but strongly supportive role in the daily process of discovering who we are. Even as we age, the brain remains active, continuing to grow, renewing development, and perhaps most importantly, safekeeping of our most cherished abilities.

The brain’s developmental stages are each marked by both opportunity and peril. Throughout the book we are introduced to children and adults affected by brain disorders – from dyslexia to depression to drug addiction. But we are also heartened by one of the brain’s most surprising secrets: it rarely suffers assault passively. When injured or ill, the brain rallies, demonstrating its resilience and ability promote healing.

Written by best-selling author Richard Restak, M.D., The Secret Life of the Brain is a comprehensive and thoroughly satisfying exploration of recent discoveries and their impact on human development. Beautiful photographs and original illustrations combine with a vivid and compelling narrative to bring this fascinating science to life in grand and glorious ways.

"What a joy! The Secret Life of the Brain is a powerful book that illuminates the hardware of humanity, the human brain. From infancy through old age, this lucid book helps us understand our emotions, fears, moods, and actions. Dr. Restak is masterful at making complex scientific information easy to understand -- the hallmark of a superb teacher." Daniel G. Amen, MD Author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life and Healing ADD

“In the last decade, science has abounded with new and exciting discoveries unlocking many of the mysteries of the mind and shedding light on devastating neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The Secret Life of the Brain takes the reader on a journey of hope for coming medical miracles that could profoundly affect the lives of every American family.” Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) Co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease

“Eminently readable for the non-expert and expert alike, this book conveys the big picture at the same time as it covers the small, exciting, and important details about the brain through the human lifespan. The illustrations are decidedly high quality: both beautiful and accurate. Very well done!” Stan Watson, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan and Co-Director and Research Scientist, Mental Health Research Institute

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