From University of Washington professor Chantel Prat comes The Neuroscience of You, a rollicking adventure into the human brain that reveals the surprising truth about neuroscience, shifting our focus from what’s average to an understanding of how every brain is different, exactly why our quirks are important, and what this means for each of us.
With style and wit, Chantel Prat takes us on a tour of the meaningful ways that our brains are dissimilar from one another. Using real-world examples, along with take-them-yourself tests and quizzes, she shows you how to identify the strengths and weakness of your own brain, while learning what might be going on in the brains of those who are unlike you. With sections like “Focus,” “Navigate,” and “Connect,” The Neuroscience of You helps us see how brains that are engineered differently ultimately take diverse paths when it comes time to prioritize information, use what they’ve learned from experience, relate to other people, and so much more.
While other scientists focus on how “the” brain works “on average,” Prat argues that our obsession with commonalities has slowed our progress toward understanding the very things that make each of us unique and interesting. Her field-leading research, employing cutting-edge technology, reveals the truth: Complicated as it may be, no two brains are alike. And individual differences in brain functioning are as pervasive as they are fundamental to defining what “normal” looks like. Adages such as, “I’m not wired that way” intuitively point to the fact that the brains we’re piloting, educating, and parenting are wonderfully distinct, explaining a whole host of phenomena, from how easily a person might learn a second language in adulthood to whether someone feels curious or threatened when faced with new information. This book invites the reader to understand themselves and others by zooming in so close that we all look gray and squishy.
About the Author
Chantel Prat is a professor at the University of Washington with appointments in the departments of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Linguistics; with affiliations at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, the Center for Neurotechnology, and the Institute for Neuroengineering. She is a recipient of the Tom Trabasso Young Investigator Award from the Society for Text and Discourse and a Pathway to Independence Award from the National Institutes of Health. Prat also speaks internationally at events like the World Science Festival. She is featured in the documentary film I Am Human. Her studies have been profiled in media ranging from Scientific American, Psychology Today, and Science Daily to Rolling Stone, Popular Mechanics, Pacific Standard, Travel + Leisure, and National Public Radio.
“Move over, outer space—this book is a dazzling tour through inner space. Chantel Prat has a rare, remarkable gift for making neurons sing and dendrites dance, and she’s written the smartest, clearest, and funniest book I’ve ever read about the brain.” —Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Think Again, and host of the TED podcast WorkLife
"Prat wants to help readers understand their brain.... She does so in a friendly, personable voice that makes the complexities of the brain accessible.... A highly readable, entertaining, and authoritative book. Recommended for all non-specialists interested in how the brain works." —Library Journal (starred)
"Numerous candidly written footnotes add comedic flair to the narrative, which will be appreciated by readers eager but intimidated to learn how and why their brains generate thoughts, feelings, and decision-making patterns..... [Prat] shines a positive light on how the brain operates from the inside out and from the outside in. An informal, highly accessible tour of neuroscience for general readers." —Kirkus
"Prat... covers the nature of the human brain in her lively and informative debut...There are lots of funny footnotes as well as cutting-edge research—on nematode nervous systems, for example—and her informal tone goes a long way in making her subject both understandable and enjoyable. This work of popular science sets itself apart." —Publishers Weekly
“In The Neuroscience of You, Chantel Prat pulls off the nearly impossible feat of writing a book that is authoritative, personal, technically astute and charming. Prat offers a profound thesis: that there is wonder and beauty in understanding the variation in how brains function. Prat teaches us that these differences should not be fuel for division, but rather, the object of fascination, appreciation, and celebration.” —C. Brandon Ogbunu, Yale University, Ideas contributor for Wired Magazine
“Smart, funny, irreverent… reading this book is like downloading a PhD in neuroscience in one exuberant sitting. It’s a must read for any budding neuroscientists out there, and anyone else who wants to know how our brains work and why it matters.” —Anna Lembke, author of New York Times bestseller Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence
“We’re all the same: human beings. At the same time, we’re all different individuals. In her marvelous, accessible, often funny and always informative book, Chantel Prat reconciles this seeming paradox. Read this book; you’ll understand — and admire — your species and your brain as never before. And you’ll have a hell of a lot of fun getting there!” —David P. Barash author most recently of Threats: Intimidation and its Discontents
“Neuroscientists emphasize how most brains work, but finally here’s a book that emphasizes how your brain works! Chantel Prat artfully describes why and how our brains differ – skillfully interweaving accessible facts about genetics, environment, and brain science to help explain what makes you uniquely YOU! The book is a joy, the footnotes are hilarious, and the topic is of central importance to all those interested in human uniqueness, cognitive science, and how much we share and differ from the rest of humanity.” —Patricia K Kuhl, cognitive neuroscientist, Member of the National Academy of Sciences, and author of The Scientist in the Crib
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