Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Got brains?

We all have a brain, right? And most of us have gone through the process of growing up. Which is why Aamodt & Wang’s fun and accessibly written book, Welcome to your child’s brain: how the mind grows from conception to college is fascinating reading for everyone, not just parents. Understanding brain development can give us greater insight into human behavior. And for those of us not in the habit of reading medical journals, how often do we come across up-to-date, comprehensible information on the brain?

Aamodt and Wang are both experts in the field of neuroscience, and include a detailed bibliography and an index in the book, which gives me reasonable confidence in their authority: always a good thing when reading about medical issues. Their tone is light but grounded in common sense.

Each of the seven parts of the book focuses on a different aspect of brain development, with practical tips and myth-debunking featured under each topic. Sample chapter headings include:

o Beyond nature vs. nurture
o It’s a girl! Gender differences
o The best gift you can give: self-control
o Learning to solve problems
o Hang in there, baby: stress and resilience

Some of my favorite trivia gleaned from the book: Did you know chimpanzees in the wild display empathy toward injured birds, trying to fix broken wings? And listening to classical music absolutely does not make children smarter? Oh, yes, and contrary to popular belief, birth order has no strong impact on a child’s personality-- guess that stubborn streak was always meant to be!

For more friendly and accessible info about the brain, try Welcome to your brain: why you lose your car keys but never forget how to drive and other puzzles by the same authors.

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