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The Great Brain Debate:
Nature or Nurture?
John E. Dowling

Paperback | 2007 | $27.95 | £22.95 | ISBN: 9780691133102
200 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 1 halftone. 45 line illus.
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400841387 |
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Whether our personality, intelligence, and behavior are more likely to be shaped by our environment or our genetic coding is not simply an idle question for today's researchers. There are tremendous consequences to understanding the crucial role that environment and genes each play. How we raise and educate our children, how we treat various mental diseases or conditions, how we care for our elderly--these are just some of the issues that can be informed by a better understanding of brain development.

In The Great Brain Debate, the eminent neuroscience researcher John Dowling looks at these and other important issues. The work that is being done on the connection between the brain and vision, as well as the ways in which our brains help us learn new languages, are particularly revealing. From this groundbreaking new research, Dowling explains startling new insights into how the brain functions and how it can (or cannot) be molded and changed. By studying the brain across the spectrum of our lives, from infancy through adulthood and into old age, Dowling shows the ways in which both nature and nurture play key roles over the course of a human lifetime.


"[The Great Brain Debate] is an enjoyable primer on some of the most exciting areas of neuroscience research today."--A. K. Prashanth, Times Higher Education Supplement

"Dowling does a masterful job. . . . His eloquent essay provides solid examples of what elements of brain development and brain function are under genetic control and which are largely guided by experience."--Charles A. Nelson and Irving I. Gottesman, Science

"[Dowling] writes authoritatively and covers the important stuff."--San Diego Union Tribune

"The Great Brain Debate is a fine introduction to some of the key findings in contemporary neuroscience. In addressing the mechanisms of both nature and nurture, Dowling's book is clear and judicious, well articulating our current knowledge of both."--Gary Marcus, American Journal of Psychology

Table of Contents:

Introduction 1

Part I: The Developing Brain

Chapter 1: Building a Brain 7
Chapter 2: Maturing a Brain 33
Chapter 3: Developing Behaviors 57

Part II: The Adult Brain
Chapter 4: Teaching Older Dogs New Tricks 83
Chapter 5: Controversies: New Neurons and Genes and Behavior 111

Part III: The Aging Brain
Chapter 6: Is Aging of the Brain a Disease? 139
Conclusions (and Speculations) 161
Further Reading 175
Figure Credits 177
Index 179


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