One of my areas of interest has been the brain. There are all sorts of cool books about the brain. Mapping the Mind by Rita Carter is one of the books I’ve really enjoyed reading. The book talks about how brain scans explain our behaviours, particularly those which are different from the norm. If you are teaching an AP Psychology course, you can find some fabulous information to share with students during the Brain & Behaviour or Development sections (you can use it in Intro Psych too at the high school level but some of it may be a bit too deep). My particularly favourite chapter is called Higher Ground, which focuses on consciousness and the processes involved.
My favourite book on the brain is by V.S. Ramachandran, Phantoms in the Brain. V.S. Ramachandran addresses some questions that we all ask ourselves – “What is the self?” and “Why do we see things the way we do?”. He talks about his experiences with patients who have some type of brain injury. These patients have helped him understand how the brain works. My favourite chapter is Zombies in the Brain, where he speaks about seeing and understanding what we see – and that sometimes we don’t clearly interpret what is in front of us. It’s very cool!
The other area of interest for me is in the teenage brain, since that is who I tend to work with most. I found a great Ted Talk by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore. She talks about the dramatic changes that the brain undergoes during this period. The information that we are exposed to determines which synapses are strengthened and which are pruned. I think this would be a great conversation starter with teenagers…so what experiences do you think would be best for you to experience during the time between your childhood and adulthood to allow your brain to develop the best?
There are so many other resources out there about the brain depending on your area of interest and much of it is easy to digest for the average person. I can’t wait to see what new information comes to light as researches continue the quest to understand how we think, feel and behave!