The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain

  • by Barbara Strauch
  • Narrated by Nona Pipes
  • 6 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A leading science writer examines how the brain's capacity reaches its peak in middle age. For many years, scientists thought that the human brain simply decayed over time and its dying cells led to memory slips, fuzzy logic, negative thinking, and even depression. But new research from neuroscientists and psychologists suggests that, in fact, the brain reorganizes, improves in important functions, and even helps us adopt a more optimistic outlook in middle age. Growth of white matter and brain connectors allow us to recognize patterns faster, make better judgments, and find unique solutions to problems. Scientists call these traits cognitive expertise and they reach their highest levels in middle age.
In her impeccably researched book, science writer Barbara Strauch explores the latest findings that demonstrate, through the use of technology such as brain scans, that the middle-aged brain is more flexible and more capable than previously thought. For the first time, long-term studies show that our view of middle age has been misleading and incomplete. By detailing exactly the normal, healthy brain functions over time, Strauch also explains how its optimal processes can be maintained.
Part scientific survey, part how-to guide, The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain is a fascinating glimpse at our surprisingly talented middle-aged minds.

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What the Critics Say

"Strauch tackles [loaded questions] with all the scientific instruments at her disposal...the latest findings neurological, biochemical, and psychological, with an illuminating dose of anecdote thrown in." (New Scientist)
"Provocative....A contender for every parent's reading list." (Newsday)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Recommended for all Ages

Since 2006 I have hosted the Brain Science Podcast, which has given me the opportunity to interview a wide variety of neuroscientists. While this book was written by a science journalist, not a scientist, I enjoyed the way she incorporated current research into a discussion of a subject that concerns almost everyone.

Strauch points out that as we get older we tend to worry about why we forget the names of people we know (and those of people we just met) and we seem to be more easily distracted, BUT we fail to notice our mental strengths.

In this book you will learn what the research shows about how for most of us, the gains outweigh the losses.

I have recommended this book to all my listeners.

Ginger Campbell, MD
Creator and Host of the Brain Science Podcast
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- Virginia A

Reassurance for the More "Mature"

I have a novice's interest in neuroplasticity and related issues. Barbara Strauch has done a great job of bringing me up to speed on the latest understanding of the brain and mid-life. Along the way she clearly distinguishes what we know about cognitive development (no evidence for the Empty Nest Syndrome) and what we don't know (what foods will help us gain mental strength).

The prose is nontechnical and readily available to the uninitiated. Nona Pipes is up to her best in the reading. It will be of interest to a broad spectrum of listeners. Give it a try.
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- Roy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-16-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios