Brainscapes is a path-breaking journey into the brain, showing how perception, thought, and action are products of maps etched into your gray matter—and how technology can use them to read your mind.

Your brain is a collection of maps: detailed representations, scrawled across your brain’s surfaces, of the sights, sounds, and actions that hold the key to your survival. Although scientists began discovering these maps over a century ago, we are only now beginning to unlock their secrets—and comprehend their profound impact on our lives. Brain maps distort and shape our experience of the world, support complex thought, and make technology-enabled mind reading a modern-day reality. They shine a light on our past and our possible futures. In the process, they invite us to view ourselves from a startling new perspective.

Praise for Brainscapes

“Rebecca Schwarzlose is a neuroscientist with a novelist's literary flair. Brainscapes is a profoundly illuminating account of how the brain works—and of how the maps within our heads determine what we see, recognize, remember, and feel. It’s about miracles, and it’s a complete inspiration.”

Cass R. Sunstein, author of Too Much Information

“Brainscapes will change how you think about the brain and how you understand your own mind. This is a fascinating and original exploration of the physical principles that enable you to do all that you do, and be who you are.“

Tali Sharot, author of The Influential Mind

“This book is the Lonely Planet travel guide to the brain. With humility, humor, and the familiarity of a local, Rebecca Schwarzlose takes you by the hand and shows you around some of the strangest landscapes of the cortex. In Brainscapes, the brain becomes an open atlas, full of illuminating maps—just one of many enlightening metaphors in this meticulously documented and artfully decorated book.”

Stanislas Dehaene, author of How We Learn and Consciousness and the Brain

“A beautiful book about one of the most fundamental properties of the brain—its ability as a mapmaker. . . . Brainscapes explains that deep truth in clear, compelling language. It’s a fascinating, well-told story, worth the read.”

Michael Graziano, author of Rethinking Consciousness

“In Brainscapes, Rebecca Schwarzlose takes the reader on a journey through the brain by explaining all the ways it uses ‘maps’ to help us experience the world and act in it. I thoroughly enjoyed this broad in scope, and beautifully written, book.”

Joseph LeDoux, author of The Deep History of Ourselves

“In lively prose, Schwarzlose introduces you to your inner cartographer: a complex brain that continuously constructs shifting maps of the world, charted from the perspective of your own body. These maps are not just created by you—they are you. They conjure what you feel, what you remember, and what you do.”

Lisa Feldman Barrett, author of How Emotions Are Made and Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain

“Neuroscientist Schwarzlose debuts with a fascinating deep-dive into the “remarkable maps” in the human brain... This is deeply enjoyable and thoroughly researched—science-minded readers should take note.”

Publishers Weekly starred review

“The scope of the book is staggering, as is the potential of technology’s role in decoding minds, and yet Schwarzlose successfully and enthusiastically relays the research in relevant, understandable, and absorbing language.”

Kirkus review

“This potentially dense and impenetrable subject is illuminated and rendered comprehensible in Schwarzlose’s skilled hands. A fascinating in-depth exploration of the maps contained within our brains. Recommended for science lovers.”

Library Journal review

“This book is a game-changer if you’re looking to change your life. Rooted in science, this book is a refreshing look at how we navigate the world. It invites you to shift your perspective and see things through a different lens. It’s easy to read and well-written. I highly recommend this book to students, colleagues, and anyone wishing to dive deeper into shifting their current reality.”

Netgalley review (Cynthia G., Educator)

“Brainscapes is the best introduction to a scientific concept that I ever read. . . . Deep and complicated scientific concepts are explained through stories that really happen, guiding the reader from the time when the word neuroscience didn’t exist until the most modern advances, inventions, and discoveries of today.”

Netgalley review (Ashin S., Educator)

About The Author

Rebecca Schwarzlose is a cognitive neuroscientist researching the developing brain at Washington University in St. Louis. She received a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from M.I.T. and has served as chief editor of the scholarly journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Her work on Brainscapes was supported by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology. More information about the author, her work, and her writing is available at or on Twitter @gothemind.