Brainscapes: The Warped, Wondrous Maps Written in Your Brain—And How They Guide You

Rebecca Schwarzlose. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-1-328-94996-7
Neuroscientist Schwarzlose debuts with a fascinating deep-dive into the “remarkable maps” in the human brain. “I am not being metaphorical or using artistic license; there are actual maps in your brain,” she writes, and explains how those maps, made of interconnected neurons, function. Schwarzlose examines how each of the five senses is translated into perception via brain maps: the maps feature “gross distortions,” she writes, in how the brain perceives and makes sense of the world. These maps also play a role in movement, enabling memory and allowing humans to comprehend emotions. She also describes breakthroughs that enable individuals in apparent vegetative states to communicate through mental imagery and allow paralyzed individuals to control prosthetic devices simply by thinking of motions. She also warns of the double-edged nature of “brain-based” technologies often brushed off as science fiction: they may “empower the powerless, but they might also threaten our privacy and lessen our personal sovereignty.” Schwarzlose’s presentation of cutting-edge science is consistently accessible and concise, as is her historical perspective on early brain research (she describes work on mental imagery used by the founder of eugenics in 1870, noting that his sample only featured aristocratic European men). This is deeply enjoyable and thoroughly researched—science-minded readers should take note. Agent: Katinka Matson, Brockman Literary. (June)
Reviewed on : 03/05/2021
Release date: 06/15/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-358-69932-3
Book - 1 pages - 978-1-328-94998-1
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