Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Adolescent Brain by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore
(Transworld (UK), Public Affairs (US), 2017)

Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Adolescent Brain

by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

Until very recently, neuroscientists and psychologists assumed that our brains stopped developing in mid-childhood. We now know that this isn’t the case. Our brains are dynamic objects, subject to developmental changes until we’re in our twenties. The adolescent brain is therefore fundamentally different from the adult brain, and teenage behaviour – risk-taking, intense friendships, a difficulty in seeing things from the point of view of another person – are all caused by the same set of underlying transformations.

There are huge implications here for education, parenting, mental health treatment, and the place of young people in society at large. But the research is also fascinating for its own sake. As Sarah-Jayne demonstrates, we have persistently misunderstood what adolescence is. Inventing Ourselves is a book about how what happens to us as teenagers dictates the people we ultimately become (the title refers to the Amygdala and the Hippocampus, the areas of the brain that deal with emotion and long-term memory respectively). Through case studies and descriptions of her own cutting-edge research, in what is becoming one of the world’s most famous neuroscience laboratories, Sarah-Jayne will transform the way we think about this stage of life, and show how the changes that take place in adolescence are a lens through which we can begin to see ourselves anew.