“Enlightening and ambitious… a book that travels into rich terrain, charted by a smart and eager tour guide.”—New York Times Book Review
A path-breaking journey into the brain, showing how perception, thought, and action are products of maps etched into your gray matter—and how technology can use them to read your mind.
Your brain is a collection of maps: detailed representations, scrawled across your brain’s surfaces, of the sights, sounds, and actions that hold the key to your survival. Although scientists began discovering these maps over a century ago, we are only now beginning to unlock their secrets—and comprehend their profound impact on our lives. Brain maps distort and shape our experience of the world, support complex thought, and make technology-enabled mind reading a modern-day reality. They shine a light on our past and our possible futures. In the process, they invite us to view ourselves from a startling new perspective.
In Brainscapes, Rebecca Schwarzlose combines unforgettable real-life stories, cutting-edge research, and vivid illustrations to reveal brain maps’ surprising lessons about our place in the world—and about the world’s place within us.
About the Author
REBECCA SCHWARZLOSE is a neuroscientist at Washington University in Saint Louis. She holds a PhD in neuroscience from MIT and has served as chief editor of the scholarly journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences. She lives in Saint Louis.
“Enlightening and ambitious… a book that travels into rich terrain, charted by a smart and eager tour guide.” —The New York Times Book Review
"Schwarzlose’s presentation of cutting-edge science is consistently accessible and concise, as is her historical perspective on early brain research... This is deeply enjoyable and thoroughly researched." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"The scope of the book is staggering, as is the potential of technology's role in decoding minds, and yet Schwarzlose successfully and enthusiastically relays the research in relevant, understandable, and absorbing language." —Kirkus
"[A] potentially dense and impenetrable subject [that] is illuminated and rendered comprehensible in Schwarzlose’s skilled hands. A fascinating in-depth exploration of the maps contained within our brains." —Library Journal
“Rebecca Schwarzlose is a neuroscientist with a novelist's literary flair. Brainscapes is a profoundly illuminating account of how the brain works—and of how the maps within our heads determine what we see, recognize, remember, and feel. It’s about miracles, and it’s a complete inspiration.”—Cass R. Sunstein, author of Too Much Information
“This book is the Lonely Planet travel guide to the brain. With humility, humor, and the familiarity of a local, Rebecca Schwarzlose takes you by the hand and shows you around some of the strangest landscapes of the cortex. In Brainscapes, the brain becomes an open atlas, full of illuminating maps—just one of many enlightening metaphors in this meticulously documented and artfully decorated book.”—Stanislas Dehaene, author of How We Learn and Consciousness and the Brain
“In lively prose, Schwarzlose introduces you to your inner cartographer: a complex brain that continuously constructs shifting maps of the world, charted from the perspective of your own body. These maps are not just created by you—they are you. They conjure what you feel, what you remember, and what you do.”—Lisa Feldman Barrett, author of How Emotions Are Made and Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain
“In Brainscapes, Rebecca Schwarzlose takes the reader on a journey through the brain by explaining all the ways it uses ‘maps’ to help us experience the world and act in it. I thoroughly enjoyed this broad in scope, and beautifully written, book.”—Joseph LeDoux, author of The Deep History of Ourselves
“A beautiful book about one of the most fundamental properties of the brain—its ability as a mapmaker. The meat in our heads organizes and controls everything we do, from perception to emotion, action to cognition, by mapping complex information into simple spaces. Brainscapes explains that deep truth in clear, compelling language. It’s a fascinating, well-told story, worth the read.”—Michael Graziano, author of Rethinking Consciousness
"Brainscapes will change how you think about the brain and how you understand your own mind. This is a fascinating and original exploration of the physical principles that enable you to do all that you do, and be who you are."—Tali Sharot, author of The Influential Mind