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Publisher's Summary

A leading science writer examines how the brain's capacity reaches its peak in middle age. For many years, scientists thought that the human brain simply decayed over time and its dying cells led to memory slips, fuzzy logic, negative thinking, and even depression. But new research from neuroscientists and psychologists suggests that, in fact, the brain reorganizes, improves in important functions, and even helps us adopt a more optimistic outlook in middle age. Growth of white matter and brain connectors allow us to recognize patterns faster, make better judgments, and find unique solutions to problems. Scientists call these traits cognitive expertise and they reach their highest levels in middle age.

In her impeccably researched book, science writer Barbara Strauch explores the latest findings that demonstrate, through the use of technology such as brain scans, that the middle-aged brain is more flexible and more capable than previously thought. For the first time, long-term studies show that our view of middle age has been misleading and incomplete. By detailing exactly the normal, healthy brain functions over time, Strauch also explains how its optimal processes can be maintained.

Part scientific survey, part how-to guide, The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain is a fascinating glimpse at our surprisingly talented middle-aged minds.

©2010 Barbara Strauch (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Strauch tackles [loaded questions] with all the scientific instruments at her disposal...the latest findings neurological, biochemical, and psychological, with an illuminating dose of anecdote thrown in." (New Scientist)
"Provocative....A contender for every parent's reading list." (Newsday)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I am younger than I thought

Where does The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Very good - near the top of the list

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain?

The exersice and brain function study and explaination

What does Nona Pipes bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She does a very good job narrating the story. She has mild inflections to show character shift. This type of book does not really have characters and other readers make the mistake of acting. I would listen to her read again.

What insight do you think you’ll apply from The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain?

That I am younger than I thought and that my brain can be helped with exersice. There is no such thing a a mid life crisis.

Any additional comments?

I liked this book

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Informative and interesting

Where does The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Interesting science, but too many personal references to anxiety about aging.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

A little less emphasis on assuming the reading is in middle age and panicking about getting old.

Have you listened to any of Nona Pipes’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I'm not sure

What’s an idea from the book that you will remember?

How exercise helps create new neurons. The brain is plastic and can grow new cells, and science is finally overcoming the dogma decreed in 1913 that the brain can't change.

Any additional comments?

The book often referenced getting old and then made a point about how the aging brain is actually not as badly in decline as we presumed. This had the ironic effect of creating anxiety by starting with the assumption that we all worry about aging. I'd rather she just explain the discoveries and tone down all the personal concerns. I'd mention it once on the back cover, to pique the interest of older folks who really have started to worry about dementia, but don't harp on it throughout the book and alienate younger people.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Thesis could be an essay albeit worth hearing

An easy listen due to quality reading and interesting research. Concepts are somewhat belaboured. I would have preferred a faster pace. That said, the content is more than worthwhile. I have recommended the book to several friends.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A MUST read for anyone over 30-something!!

Where does The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I will read this book many times over - and not just because I'm middle-aged. This book is really fascinating, inspiring, and gives me hope that it's not all down hill from here. I intend on buying a copy to send to all of my friends and family.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • Mo
  • 05-05-12

We aren't all on the road to dementia!

Would you listen to The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain again? Why?

Yes - There were parts I'd like to review one more time.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain?

The age bracket for the "new" midlife age span.

Which scene was your favorite?

The going into the basement story - How we all can relate!

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

too scientifc for a film

Any additional comments?

This book was great for reassuring a large amount of us out there that are caregivers for parents with Alzheimers that there is hope. Those names that just won't come - well that's because the brain is working better in other areas. It was great to listen to some scientific data that backs this all up.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mark
  • Shoreline, WA, USA
  • 05-02-10

both personal and /w sci info

i am really enjoying this book, i wonder if there is also a reading of the teen mind book here?

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Arne
  • Kortrijk, Belgium
  • 01-31-12

Interesting but not amazing

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I wouldn't know. The book is interesting in some respect, but it seems to repeat the same idea too often.

What could Barbara Strauch have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Repeat less.

What about Nona Pipes’s performance did you like?

The book was well read.

Could you see The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

No, not really.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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This book made me cry.

Absolutely loved this book. You won't find any actual technique or recommendations but you'll learn so much about your middle aged brain, it will probably make you cry, just like it did to me.

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  • A. Haase
  • Denver, CO United States
  • 12-09-15

started hopeful and interesting

About the midpoint it started to sound less scientific and less focused. by the end it felt like a list of theories that have little scientific basis; the author generally disclosed the science behind the theories and I commend her for that.

overall a decent book with sparks of greatness.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Listened twice then bought the book

Would you consider the audio edition of The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain to be better than the print version?

They each serve a different purpose. The book is good for reference and review, the audio for when your hands are busy and you want your brain entertained and informed.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I liked it all. Her stories were so down to earth and I could relate to them all despite the fact that I am well past the age 55 group the book targets.

What insight do you think you’ll apply from The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain?

I have incorporated many parts into the lectures I give on health and the brain.

Any additional comments?

One of my favorite "health" books.