FREE READ Ô Inventing Ourselves

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore ¸ 1 FREE READ

L ages we know that this isn't so Professor Sarah Jayne Blake one of the world's leading researchers into adolescent neurology explains precisely what is going on in the complex and fascinating brains of teenagers namely that the brain goes on developing and changing right through adolescence with profound implications for the adults these young people will becomeDrawing from cutting edge research including her own Blake showsHow an adolescent There was so much to enjoy in this book because it was easy to read and understand it seems like Blake truly wants people to understand that adolescence is a uniue time for brain functionality and development by giving examples that illustrate her pointWhile plenty of the experiments were done by her and colleagues she references plenty of others and shares that there is just so much to learn and know For the most part they blend in well with her narrative and demonstrate her point without overwhelming readers and losing the overall message of patience and science in knowing teenagers Yes she’s English but references Western culture in general while taking into consideration culture and language from across the world I Post ited uite a bit with tidbits of new knowledge but it also continues to remind me as a high school educator how we should teach and respond to teens during this developmental stage And it threw me back plenty of times to think of my own teenaged self and that was welcomed A Lil Less Broken (The Kingsmen MC, just so much to learn and know For the most part they blend in well with her narrative and demonstrate her point without overwhelming readers and losing the overall message of patience and science in knowing teenagers Yes she’s English but references Western culture in general while taking into consideration culture and language from across the world I Post ited uite a bit with tidbits of new knowledge but it also continues to remind me as a high school educator how we should teach and respond to teens during this developmental stage And it threw me back plenty of times to think of my own teenaged self and that was welcomed

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Inventing Ourselves

A tour through the groundbreaking science behind the enigmatic but crucial brain developments of adolescence and how those translate into teenage behavior The brain creates every feeling emotion and desire we experience and stores every one of our memories And yet until very recently scientists believed our brains were fully developed from childhood on Now thanks to imaging technology that enables us to look inside the living human brain at al This award winning book is written by a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the UCL who specialises in the developing brain of adolescence defined as the period from the onset of puberty through to when an individual takes a stable independent role in societyShe along with other researchers have taken advantage of the use of MRI scans to understand how the brain develops during adolescence and how it is different to the child and adult brain as well as looking at a number of small scale social study experiments similar to those used in lots of Behavioural Economics studies to identify different behaviours in adolescents in well understood tests and experiments one example would be the delayed gratification Marshmallow test Further in some cases these two ideas have been combined in functional MRI scans – looking at brain activity while completing tasks or experiments In the book these studies are the tentative conclusions with them are discussed in extensive detail alongside descriptions of the brain its structure and what we understand of its functioningThe fundamental finding of the studies is that contrary to beliefs a number of years ago crucial regions of the human brain continue to develop during adolescence and in fact that this period is critical to the development of the functioning adult brain something which is likely connected with most mental illnesses first developing at this stage – albeit the connections are not currently clearIn particular the pre frontal cortex responsible for such areas as self awareness social interaction suppression of inappropriate impulse and risk taking ability to take into account other people’s perspective is developing significantly over this period – with significant levels of synaptic pruning Another area that changed during this period is the limbic system – which controls emotion and reward processing with teenagers particularly sensitive to the rewards of risk taking at the same time that the pre frontal cortex’s ability to rationally suppress undue risk is still not fully developed but the need for peer approval is at its strongest Risk taking is much common for adolescents when with their peers due to this developmental mismatch between different areas of the brain Interestingly for me the author points out that this is corroborated by motor insurance data when young drivers freuency of claims are higher when they have passengers in their cars which as an aside not pointed out by the author also leads to a greater severity of claims due to third party bodily injury claims from passengers as well as in catastrophic cases the potential for huge future care or loss of earnings claims I have seen elsewhere that the author tentatively supports ideas to ban young drivers from carrying passengers of a similar ageThe book’s strength is simultaneously its weakness Professor Blake resists strongly the temptation to draw overly certain conclusions and specifically in a penultimate chapter cautions against much of the popular science which likes to produce headline results around neuroscience and translate them into easy to apply ideas for education or brain training She points out here but also regularly in discussing the work of her own lab and others with which she collaborates the limitations of much of the current research many results have not been independently replicated; the relatively recent innovation of MRI scanning means that there is an absence of longitudinal studies; the cost of MRI scans leads to issues of statistical validity sample sizes are typically very small and there is very limited opportunity to look for factor interactions; these issues plus ethical ones make randomized control trials let alone blind or double blind ones difficult But of course the very scientific honest and transparency of these limitations mean that Professor Blake does not supply a list of ready conclusions or recommendations for parents or teachers of adolescents Her overwhelming conclusion here I believe is that adolescence is a vital part of brain development – and that most if not all of the behaviours we see and often castigate as typical teenage ones are crucial to this development and should be respected for what they are while channeled as much as possible So overall an interesting book – albeit I think much of the sense of it could for a lay reader be gained by articles by the author or her excellent TED talk

CHARACTERS Þ THISISWHYYOUREFESTIVE.CO.UK ¸ Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

Brain differs from those of children and adultsWhy problem free kids can turn into challenging teensWhat drives the excessive risk taking and all consuming relationships common among teenagersAnd why many mental illnesses depression addiction schizophrenia present during these formative yearsBlake's discoveries have transformed our understanding of the teenage mind with conseuences for law education policy and practice and most of all parents Inventing Ourselves by Sarah Jayne Blake is an excellent basic neuroscience primer for people with a little exposure to topic On the surface it may seem a little daunting due to the amount of research that is cited for the lay person but Blake makes the information accessible to anyone that is interested in the subject by not over using neuroscience jargon and clearly defining all terms that are needed The book gives you a good overall view of the subject by devoting its first few chapters to providing a basic background on the psychosocial and developmental issues that adolescents face The next few chapters detail some of the different structures in the brain what those structures do tools used to examine the living brain MRI fMRI PET Scan the differences between the brains of children adolescents and adults and the implications of those differences The lasts chapters delve into implications of the developing brain and rates of development what can happen when things go wrong research and implications and possible interpretations of that research A few of the topics I found most interesting 1 How individuals vary on the rate at which different structures in the brain develop and what the implications those different rates may have not only on risk taking behavior of the individual but what that may mean for the individual when they are an adult prefrontal cortex rate of development compared to the rate of development of the amygdala and the nucleus accumbens2 The type of marketing and messages that teenagers are likely to respond to based on the fact that they are less impacted by fear of adverse conseuences than adults3 The research on how brains develop differently in people with different mental conditions like schizophrenia depression anxiety etc 4 The effects of sleep deprivation on teenager’s brains5 Possible improvements that could be made to our educational system based on their specific developmental needsIn short this book is an excellent resource for parents frantically trying to understand their children educators other professions that deal with teenagers or to those interested in neuroscience The author is very knowledgeable and takes a compassionate view of people going through the formative period of lifeI received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


10 thoughts on “Inventing Ourselves

  1. says:

    This award winning book is written by a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the UCL who specialises in the developing brain of adolescence defined as the period from the onset of puberty through to when an individual takes a stable independent role in societyShe along with other researchers have taken advantage of the use of MRI scans to understand how the brain develops during adolescence and how it is different to the child and adult brain as well as looking at a number of small scale social study experiments similar to those used in lots of Behavioural Economics studies to identify different behaviours in adolescents in well understood tests and experiments one example would be the delayed gratification Marshmallow test Further in some cases these two ideas have been combined in functional MRI scans – looking at brain activity while completing tasks or experiments In the book these studies are the tentative conclusions with them are discussed in extensive detail alongside descriptions of the brain its structure and what we understand of its functioningThe fundamental finding of the studies is that contrary to beliefs a number of years ago crucial regions of the human brain continue to develop during adolescence and in fact that this period is critical to the development of the functioning adult brain something which is likely connected with most mental illnesses first developing at this stage – albeit the connections are not currently clearIn particular the pre frontal cortex responsible for such areas as self awareness social interaction suppression of inappropriate impulse and risk taking ability to take into account other people’s perspective is developing significantly over this period – with significant levels of synaptic pruning Another area that changed during this period is the limbic system – which controls emotion and reward processing with teenagers particularly sensitive to the rewards of risk taking at the same time that the pre frontal cortex’s ability to rationally suppress undue risk is still not fully developed but the need for peer approval is at its strongest Risk taking is much common for adolescents when with their peers due to this developmental mismatch between different areas of the brain Interestingly for me the author points out that this is corroborated by motor insurance data when young drivers freuency of claims are higher when they have passengers in their cars which as an aside not pointed out by the author also leads to a greater severity of claims due to third party bodily injury claims from passengers as well as in catastrophic cases the potential for huge future care or loss of earnings claims I have seen elsewhere that the author tentatively supports ideas to ban young drivers from carrying passengers of a similar ageThe book’s strength is simultaneously its weakness Professor Blake resists strongly the temptation to draw overly certain conclusions and specifically in a penultimate chapter cautions against much of the popular science which likes to produce headline results around neuroscience and translate them into easy to apply ideas for education or brain training She points out here but also regularly in discussing the work of her own lab and others with which she collaborates the limitations of much of the current research many results have not been independently replicated; the relatively recent innovation of MRI scanning means that there is an absence of longitudinal studies; the cost of MRI scans leads to issues of statistical validity sample sizes are typically very small and there is very limited opportunity to look for factor interactions; these issues plus ethical ones make randomized control trials let alone blind or double blind ones difficult But of course the very scientific honest and transparency of these limitations mean that Professor Blake does not supply a list of ready conclusions or recommendations for parents or teachers of adolescents Her overwhelming conclusion here I believe is that adolescence is a vital part of brain development – and that most if not all of the behaviours we see and often castigate as typical teenage ones are crucial to this development and should be respected for what they are while channeled as much as possible So overall an interesting book – albeit I think much of the sense of it could for a lay reader be gained by articles by the author or her excellent TED talk


  2. says:

    Whenever I finish a great non fiction book I realise too late that I should have been taking notes while reading it Otherwise when I reach the end I feel like starting it all over again This is exactly what happened with “Inventing ourselves The secret life of the teenage brain” that I finished a few days ago but did not write anything about at the time So here it goes nowThe book came very well recommended by its owner so the beginning felt a bit disappointing What I already knew about the anatomy of the brain and the transmission of signals between nervous cells made the first pages sound a bit uninteresting although I understand the need to include it as an introduction to what comes next so that it becomes accessible to all kinds of readers But this feeling soon vanished as the author starts summarising the results of past and mainly current research about the human brainAs I said I regret not having taken notes so what follows is just a short list of a few ideas that I found especially interesting and have stuck with me adolescent typical behaviour is present across human cultures and across species One of the earliest descriptions of adolescents comes from Socrates 469 399 BC “The children now love luxury They have bad manners contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise” adolescence covers a larger period than what we traditionally identify as such extending well into the 20ies It is during adolescence that our sense of self becomes particularly important to us The term “imaginary audience” coined in the 1960ies by a famous psychologist describes the phenomenon whereby adolescents imagine that other people are constantly observing and evaluating them even if this is not the case There is a lot of evidence that suggests that in adolescence the limbic system is particularly sensitive to rewards that are obtained as a result of risk taking while the development of pre frontal regions of the brain involved in self control is relatively slow These are some of the reasons why most campaigns directed at teenagers eg anti smoking anti alcohol etc are not effective as they usually focus on the long term health risks which adolescents perfectly understand but are not as important to them as immediate and non healh related conseuences particularly those related with the effects on other people several studies highlight the importance of late adolescence for education and suggest that it might be efficient to wait until late adolescence to learn certain types of cognitive skill This calls into uestion the claim made by some education policy makers that entry tests for selective schools that include non verbal reasoning assess the true potential of every child which is fixed and possibly innate – on the contrary this is a skill that can be trained and improvedI could go on and on but it would get boring because my writing talent is uite limited and I am just extracting bits and pieces from a whole therefore losing context The book is filled with interesting examples and it is very well written the language is simple and very accessible without losing in detail and accuracy The author is very careful to explain how each test or experiment has been undertaken and how the results should be interpreted without jumping to incorrect generalisations I would recommend it to everyone who deals with teenagers parents grandparents teachers etc


  3. says:

    Informative book Neuroscientist Sarah Jayne Blake delves into the physiological reasons for the common habits and risk taking behaviors of our teenage children Clearly adolescents are in a transformative period The brain of the adolescent is in fact not yet the same as the brain of an adult which helps to explain some of their social behaviors and inability to properly evaluate risk and repercussions This book offers an insightful view on how and why we can expect certain behaviors from middle schoolers and high schoolers This is a great read for parents teachers and those who work with children I received an advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley which did not affect my rating I have provided an unbiased and honest review


  4. says:

    Inventing Ourselves The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain is summery of the up to date scientific research on teenage brain development In my opinion it's far better than The Teenage Brain You probably remember how your parents embarrassed you when you were a teen Well that's normal teenagers have a strong sense of embarrassment Don't take it personally next time your kids think you are an embarrassment even though you haven't done anything out of ordinaryAdolescents are associated with risk seeking behaviors However it's not because they don't understand risks or they think they are invincible Instead they take risks when they are with their peers The peer appearance not necessarily pressure including the perceived peer appearance is enough to make adolescents take risks The fear of being socially excluded plays a great part in adolescents' decision making Parents your influence will dwindle when your kids reach adolescentThe ability to inhibit automatic responses especially in a hot context with emotional arousal is still developing among adolescents Compare to adults over 25 it's difficult for adolescents to avoid punishment but they are also sensitive to rewards Therefore using reward instead of punishment works better in adolescent education both at home and in schoolThe imbalanced development of different brain systems during adolescence ie the limbic system develops before the prefrontal cortex therefore adolescents have less impulse control is partially verified by scientific researches However one research found only 15% participants show significant imbalance The level of individual differences is high Pray your kid will be even headed than hisher peers Researches have found the correlation between heavy cannabis smoking among adolescents and the onset of schizophrenia and it's either the former causes the later or both are caused by a third unknown factorThis book explains why adolescents are the way they are For hands on parenting guide I recommend The Grown Up's Guide to Teenage Humans


  5. says:

    The very nerve centre of the human body is the brain Its input is our senses the memory helps us to learn from mistakes and controls the reactions that are needed For hundreds of years the brain has been a mystery to all that studied it but only in the past few decades have we begun to scratch the surface of its capabilities Even that is unravelling; those that thought as puberty begun the human brain was developed have been proved wrong The brain continues to change and adapt all through the teenage years and into adulthoodIn this excellent book on why the teenage brain is different Sarah Jayne Blake professor in cognitive neuroscience at University College London takes us into the untidy spaces within their heads to share the latest details of what is going on From her experiments that her team have in researching the brain we will learn about why they take risks why some friendships can be so intense why some behave badly and others won't talk This time of our lives is when we can enormously creative and also destructive a lot of mental health issues raise their head for the first time ever in teenagersAs the father of two teenage daughters and one almost teenage son there are a lot of things that I can relate to that she talks about in here The brain is at a critical point in its development in teenage years and is susceptible to all sort of external stresses Some of these can be positive but there are a lot that have negative implications Like all good science books it makes you think and even though this is about our most complex organ the prose sparkles with energy and is written with clarity Well worth reading and a worthy winner of the Royal Science Award


  6. says:

    There was so much to enjoy in this book because it was easy to read and understand it seems like Blake truly wants people to understand that adolescence is a uniue time for brain functionality and development by giving examples that illustrate her pointWhile plenty of the experiments were done by her and colleagues she references plenty of others and shares that there is just so much to learn and know For the most part they blend in well with her narrative and demonstrate her point without overwhelming readers and losing the overall message of patience and science in knowing teenagers Yes she’s English but references Western culture in general while taking into consideration culture and language from across the world I Post ited uite a bit with tidbits of new knowledge but it also continues to remind me as a high school educator how we should teach and respond to teens during this developmental stage And it threw me back plenty of times to think of my own teenaged self and that was welcomed


  7. says:

    Inventing Ourselves by Sarah Jayne Blake is an excellent basic neuroscience primer for people with a little exposure to topic On the surface it may seem a little daunting due to the amount of research that is cited for the lay person but Blake makes the information accessible to anyone that is interested in the subject by not over using neuroscience jargon and clearly defining all terms that are needed The book gives you a good overall view of the subject by devoting its first few chapters to providing a basic background on the psychosocial and developmental issues that adolescents face The next few chapters detail some of the different structures in the brain what those structures do tools used to examine the living brain MRI fMRI PET Scan the differences between the brains of children adolescents and adults and the implications of those differences The lasts chapters delve into implications of the developing brain and rates of development what can happen when things go wrong research and implications and possible interpretations of that research A few of the topics I found most interesting 1 How individuals vary on the rate at which different structures in the brain develop and what the implications those different rates may have not only on risk taking behavior of the individual but what that may mean for the individual when they are an adult prefrontal cortex rate of development compared to the rate of development of the amygdala and the nucleus accumbens2 The type of marketing and messages that teenagers are likely to respond to based on the fact that they are less impacted by fear of adverse conseuences than adults3 The research on how brains develop differently in people with different mental conditions like schizophrenia depression anxiety etc 4 The effects of sleep deprivation on teenager’s brains5 Possible improvements that could be made to our educational system based on their specific developmental needsIn short this book is an excellent resource for parents frantically trying to understand their children educators other professions that deal with teenagers or to those interested in neuroscience The author is very knowledgeable and takes a compassionate view of people going through the formative period of lifeI received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


  8. says:

    This is a very informative non fiction novel on the adolescent brain However it is academic in tone and it discusses and references an exhaustive list of clinical studies and trials which makes the reading experience a trifle tedious Listening to this on audiobook also was difficult as at points I got distracted and lost the thread Overall an interesting book that is up to date on research and had some fascinating truths to express around adolescent and adult brains and brain development


  9. says:

    I got a bit bogged down in the names abbreviations for the parts of the brain as well as the details about how each study was carried out but there are some helpful bits for thinking about how to deal with adolescents empathetically and why we should do so That brain is still changing and growing Actually it never totally stops growing Cool


  10. says:

    To preface this I am not someone who often reads sciencey things I wouldn't say I'm a clever person I picked this up because I work with teenagers and I want to understand how things might be better for them Also that I watched Sarah Jayne's TED Talk and wanted The book is fascinating even so because Sarah Jayne is very clear in explaining that science creates findings not facts so when she refers to a study we can only imagine what the real effects of say alcohol on the developing brain are She explains in great detail how each area of the brain may develop who has studied this and how they went about it She talks about how different things impact that how do teenagers deal with risk? Trauma? Education? Still my favourite thing she explains is the same experiment from her talk where teenagers are to move items while keeping in mind what another person can and cannot see This alone has changed the way I interact with young people My only criticism of the book is that it seems to be uite a bumpy ride in terms of pitch There were a couple of chapters that were uite above my head and I read in small chunks so I could get my brain around it but then there were other chapters when she was explaining about blind trials and the use of controls


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