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.
This book by the eminent neuropsychiatrist and bestselling author Richard Restak is based on the acclaimed PBS series of the same name. Recent discoveries have revolutionized our knowledge of how the brain develops and functions throughout the human life cycle. From gestation in the womb to adolescence, adulthood, and old age, our brains are continually changing in ways that were previously unknown.
British Journal of Neurology
"Within each chapter the brain's continuing journey is explored in the context of real-life situations, which brings a unique meaning to the discussion. In addition, many excellent diagrams and photographs support the easy to read text." 2002
...[an] accessible, fascinating book —December 2, 2001
Daniel G. Amen
"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 emoitons, fears, moods, and actions. Dr. Restak is masterful at making complex scientific information easy to understand -- the hallmark of a superb teacher."
— 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."
—(D-MA), Co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease
"A fascinating biography of the human brain. Restak excels at making difficult material accessible."
—Author of Listening to Prozac and Spectacular Happiness
[provides] thoughtful sketches that should fully engage the left hemisphere of the reader's brain.
The PDF News
"...a masterful popular presentation of the science of the human brain." Fall 2002
...this clearly written and richly illustrated volume demonstrates both his mastery of an incredibly complex topic and his continuing ability to find new things to say about it. ... Dr. Restak's discussion is illuminated and humanized by numerous interviews with scientists on the frontline of research and examples of how brain malfunctions affect real people.
This companion volume to an upcoming PBS series presents an engaging introduction to the development of the human brain. The author of numerous books about the brain (e.g., Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot), neuropsychiatrist Restak (George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine) has already demonstrated his ability to describe complex neurological processes in fascinating and comprehensible language. Here he uses interviews, case studies, and clinical research to explore five stages of brain development: gestation/infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. With each stage, Restak focuses on sensitive periods of development, e.g., the acquisition of language. With later stages, Restak explores issues such as ADHD, drug and alcohol use, schizophrenia, stress, depression, and Alzheimer's. Plasticity is, according to Restak, the key to understanding the brain throughout its development. The brain can change and "retains the potential to establish new connections throughout our lives." This is good news for anyone who maintains a healthy lifestyle and engages in challenging mental activities. Recommended for undergraduate and public libraries. Laurie Bartolini, Illinois State Lib., Springfield Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Wider Than the Sky: The Baby's Brain
A World of Their Own: The Adolescent Brain
Crown of Creation: The Adult Brain
Second Flowering: The Aging Brain
About the Author