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A History of the Human Brain: From the Sea Sponge to CRISPR, How Our Brain Evolved

A History of the Human Brain: From the Sea Sponge to CRISPR, How Our Brain Evolved

by Bret Stetka

In the large-scale anthropologic tradition of Yuval Harari’s Sapiens but with a neuroscientific focus reminiscent of Human by Michael Gazzaniga, Brain Power tells the eye-opening story of how the brain made us human – and where it might go from here. Just over 125,000 years ago, humanity was on the edge of extinction when a dramatic shift occurred – Homo sapiens started tracking the tides and eating the nearby oysters. Before long, they’d pulled themselves back from the brink of extinction. What saved us during that period of endangerment? The human brain, and its evolutionary journey is unlike anything else in history. In Brain Power, neuroscientist and popular science writer Bret Stetka takes readers through that far-reaching journey, showing exactly when and how the human brain evolved to shape who we are today. The whole millennia-long journey raises the question of where the brain might head next. Brain Power explores the burgeoning concept of epigenetics as well as technologies like CRISPR that allow scientists to manually edit our own genetic code. The biologic, philosophic, and ethical questions are wide-ranging: Could the evolutionary path of the human brain be leading to its own replacement? AUTHOR: Bret Stetka is an editorial director at Medscape.com. He is a non-practicing physician, and a freelance health and science journalist. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Medicine. He is a regular contributor to NPR, as well as Scientific American, where he writes about neuroscience, psychiatry, and evolution. His work has also appeared in WIRED, Men’s Journal, Slate, Popular Mechanics, and The Atlantic.

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