What makes us human? There is something about us, something that makes us different to all other species on the planet. We are at the top of the food chain, with no one to fear but ourselves. We have made enormous progress, invented incredible things and gathered an impressive amount of knowledge about the world we live in. What makes us capable of healing and destruction, of creating inconceivable problems for ourselves, and then solving them? The answers to these questions are hidden in our brain.
Other species are also able to feel, learn, run, see, hear, orient themselves, cooperate and communicate. There is, however, a part of the brain that is particularly well-developed in humans: the frontal lobe. Most of our behaviours and characteristics can be explained by looking at the brain, specifically at the very front of the frontal lobe, in an area called the prefrontal cortex. This is where the brain’s most advanced functions are performed – functions that enable us to adapt our behaviours and actions to achieve a goal.
Until quite recently, there has been little research regarding this area of the brain, despite its crucial position when it comes to human behaviour. Scientists have come a long way in recent years, in figuring out how this part of the brain works. What happens in your brain when you’re standing in front of the cartons of soup at the store, trying to choose which one to get for dinner? Why are young people more willing to put themselves at risk than adults? What is it that makes us able to act calmly even when we feel like we’re about to explode with anger? The answers to these, and a number of other interesting questions, can be found in the frontal lobe. The Human Brain serves as a thought-provoking and entertaining introduction to one of the brain’s most complicated and fascinating areas.