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

Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781328949967. $28. SCI
Just as geographic maps represent particular places on Earth, brain maps chart how our bodies interpret and interact with the world. Schwarzlose (neuroscience, Washington Univ., St. Louis) writes in this volume that early research on brain maps emerged from studies of brain damage. She describes many of the brain maps that exist in humans and other animals, sense by sense; she starts with vision, touch, hearing, taste, and smell, then moves on to describe maps for movement, memory, and object recognition, among other processes. Brain maps, essentially comprising interconnected neurons that transmit electrical and chemical signals, are simultaneously universal and utterly unique, she writes. The study of brain maps has concrete applications, like improving neonatal care or enabling people with paraplegia to control prosthetics through thought. She warns that as science learns more about the maps within our brains, we need to be wary of sharing neural data with corporations that are eager to erode our privacy for profit.
VERDICT This potentially dense and impenetrable subject is illuminated and rendered comprehensible in Schwarzlose’s skilled hands. A fascinating in-depth exploration of the maps contained within our brains. Recommended for science lovers.
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