The Connected Species: How the Evolution of the Human Brain Can Save the World

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Product Details
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.5 X 0.69 inches | 0.97 pounds

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About the Author
Mark A. Williams, PhD, is a professor of cognitive neuroscience with over 25 years' experience conducting behavioral and brain imaging research. Williams has published more than 70 scientific articles and received numerous high-profile fellowships and grants. He has made many TV and radio appearances to discuss topics including emotions, technology, education, racism, and even why we can't tickle ourselves. His research has been featured in outlets globally including The New York Times, The Economist, The Guardian, and New Scientist. He lives in Australia.

Mark breaks down the complexity of human behaviour, especially the everyday behaviours we take for granted. The impact of this knowledge and insight gives meaning to the term "think before you act" and goes a long way to teaching understanding, empathy and connection for ourselves and everyone around us.

--Danny Mayson-Kinder, CEO and founder of the B Kinder Foundation

In his eye-opening debut, cognitive neuroscientist Williams argues that humans' "primitive drive to connect" has shaped "our behavior over millions of years" and that better understanding this impulse can make for a "less divided" future. The brain has evolved to optimize human connection by centering "face recognition [and] facial expression perception," which can reinforce prejudice, Williams explains. He points to implicit biases and the cross-race effect, which reveals that "people have a harder time recognizing faces from races other than their own." Even mirror neurons, which cause humans to "mimic... what we see others doing," can prove detrimental in negative group environments--for example, a protest in which part of a crowd grows violent--as "a little like a puppet on a string, we are controlled by the mood of the people around us." Williams's suggested solutions include "meeting people from... different cultures," "expanding the circle of the in-group to encompass members of the out-group" (for example, Williams writes that though he grew up in a Catholic family, he might tell non- Catholics that he grew up in a "spiritual family"), and fighting implicit bias in the media. Williams's personal anecdotes, lucid explanations of his research studies, and chapter summaries make for an argument that's accessible but not dumbed down, and readers will appreciate his optimistic tone. Pop psychology fans should take note.

-- "Publishers Weekly"

This slim book reads like a thought-provoking psychology/sociology course from one's favorite college professor. Written in a chatty style by Williams, a cognitive neuroscientist who specializes in research on faces and facial expressions, the volume takes readers on a journey to discover "how the evolution of the human brain can save the world." ... Each chapter delightfully ends with a bulleted summation of key points and a "Tip of the Chapter" to help readers internalize the take-home message, that the "next time you encounter someone you don't like, stop and consider why you don't like them," because "reflecting on our automatic responses is an important step forward." Extensive notes supplement the text. Highly recommended. General readers through faculty; professionals.

-- "Choice Reviews"

The Connected Species is gripping and humorous, provocative, moving at times, and brimming with personal reflections. Above all, it is an insightful look at the science of being a human among humans on this tiny ball hurtling through the cosmos.

--Christopher Chambers, PhD, author of The Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology and Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Cardiff University

In The Connected Species, Dr. Mark Williams interweaves history, psychology, and human health to tell the fascinating story of humankind. With warmth and humor, Williams explains how our species is shaped by a powerful drive to connect and affiliate--a drive that can both foster our greatest accomplishments and feed our worst inclinations.

--Rebecca Schwarzlose, PhD, author of Brainscapes: The Warped, Wondrous Maps Written in Your Brain--And How They Guide You, and neuroscientist at Washington University

I couldn't put this book down at my first read and will be re-reading it many times. I highly recommend it as a compelling and riveting read, as well as wise and reassuring guidance for anyone who cares about the future of our species.

--Amanda Ferguson, psychologist, author of Life Works: Rediscover Yourself and Transform Your Relationships and podcast presenter of Psych for Life

In The Connected Species, Mark Williams explores the evolution of our brain in an accessible and very entertaining way, enabling the reader a thorough and comprehensive understanding of who we are today and what we might be tomorrow.

--Christian Keysers, PhD, author of The Empathetic Brain, professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Amsterdam

This book is a must-read for those who wish for a happier and healthier world for our children and grandchildren. Professor Mark Williams provides a clear and understandable picture of how our brain has evolved, and what that means for us, and our descendants. He writes with clarity and good humor, referring to evidence-based research. The Connected Species is an excellent companion to Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.

--Sam Ginsberg, OAM, retired psychologist and Medal of the Order of Australia recipient

Having just read A Bloody Good rant by Thomas Kennealy, Dr Mark Williams' book The Connected Species resonates emotionally with me in the same vein. It, too, is a bloody good rant, a must-read for anyone seeking to deepen their understanding of the power of human connection and how it shapes our lives. However, it is more than just a rant. It explores the impact of meaningful relationships on our happiness, health, and overall well-being and provides insightful and practical strategies for strengthening our connections with others. So don't miss out on the chance to enrich your life through the power of The Connected Species, and grab a copy today!

--Gunter Swoboda, psychologist, producer, author of Making Good Men Great: Surfing the New Wave of Masculinity, and host of the Inspire Change podcast

I am always suspicious if a book offers a simple recipe to heal the world, but I truly enjoyed reading Mark Williams' thoughts. They sum up 25 years of research experience as a neuroscientist and widen convincingly the perspective from the individual to society.

Neuroscience research tells us that stereotyping and group identification are the backbone of the success of the human species. These processes need now a deliberate steering, if we want to succeed in the 21st century. Williams calls us the "connected species" and he argues that we now need to make the right connections and enable our kids to reconnect.

--Beate Wagner, Managing Director of the Global Young Academy

Williams has presented an exceptional and comprehensive case outlining the necessity and limitations for learning in social settings. It's what makes us human; the capacity to do things for and with others. A powerful take away - communities need to be small enough for members to form positive relationships. Powerful message - well worth the read!

--Barbara J. Smith, PhD, author of Assessment Tools and Systems: Meaningful Feedback Approaches to Promote Critical and Creative Thinking