In 1999, W.W. Norton published my book, “Creating Mind: How the Brain Works” that was written primarily for the non-scientist. It did well, and was reprinted seven times. I used it for many years as the basic book for my Freshman Seminar, “The Amazing Brain.” The first-year students in the seminar, interested in science but not planning to concentrate in a science, always found it accessible.
After 20 years, it clearly needed updating and Norton was enthusiastic that this be done. They asked, though, that it be expanded, essentially making it a new book with a new title. This I have done, describing not only what we presently know about brain function, but where we need to go – the future of brain research.
The book is about 50% longer than its predecessor, with half again as many figures. It remains intended for the non-scientist, and for use in courses like freshman seminars that require only high school science. Each chapter begins with a vignette, most often a clinical case, which is then expanded upon and explained where possible in the remainder of the chapter. The book is divided into three parts: 1.) The basics of cellular neurobiology; 2.) how aggregates of cells interact to underlie behaviors; and 3.) higher brain function, cognition.