The Body Has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps in Your Brain Help You Do (Almost) Everything Better

Sandra and Matthew Blakeslee

Random House,  September 2007

In this compelling, cutting-edge book, two generations of science writers explore the exciting science of "body maps" in the brain -- and how startling new discoveries about the mind-body connection can change and improve our lives. Why do you still feel fat after losing weight? What makes video games so addictive? How can "practicing" your favorite sport in your imagination improve your game? The answers can be found in body maps.

Just as road maps represent interconnections across landscape, your many body maps represent all aspects of your bodily self, inside and out. In concert, they create your physical and emotional awareness and your sense of being as a whole, feeling self in a larger social world.

Moreover, your body maps are profoundly elastic. Your self doesn't begin and end with your physical body but extents into the space around you. This space morphs every time you put on or take off clothes, ride a bike or wield a tool. When you drive a car, your personal body space grows to envelope it. When you play a video game, your body maps automatically track and emulate the actions of your character onscreen. When you watch a scary movie, your body maps put dread in your stomach and send chills down your spine. If your body maps fall out of sync, you may have an out-of-body experience or see auras around other people.

The Body Has a Mind of Its Own  explains how you can tap into te power of body maps to do almost anything better: play tennis, strum a guitar, ride a horse, dance a waltz, empathize with a friend, raise children, cope with stress.

The story of body maps goes even further, providing a fresh look at causes of anorexia, bulimia, obsessive plastic surgery, and the notorious golfer's curse "the yips." It lends insights into culture, language, music, parenting, emotions, chronic pain, and more.

Filled with illustrations, wonderful anecdotes, and even parlor tricks you can use to reconfigure your body sense, The Body Has a Mind of Its Own will change the way you think -- about the way you think.

hardcover | ISBN: 9781400064694 | Publication Date: September 2007


"The Blakeslees have taken the latest and most exciting finds from brain research and have made them accessible. This is how science writing should always be."
--Michael S. Gazzaniga, Ph.D., author of The Ethical Brain

"A marvelous book. In the last ten years there has been a paradigm shift in understanding the brain and how its various specialized regions respond to environmental changes. In addition to providing a brilliant overview of recent revolutionary discoveries on body image and brain plasticity, the book is sprinkled with numerous insights."
--V.S. Ramachandran, M.D., director, Center for Brain and Cognition, University of California, San Diego

"This book is a revelation: You'll never think about your body -- or your mind -- in the same way again. Sandra Blakeslee and Matthew Blakeslee have a gift for making the most esoteric discoveries in neuroscience both fascinating and fun."
--Daniel Goleman, author of Social Intelligence

"This is scientific reporting at its best -- the sort that not only imparts knowledge, but also evokes curiosity and wonder."
--Larry Dossey, M.D., author of The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things

"A delightfully original, understandable, and mind-stretching work from the first family of American science journalism."
--William Safire, columnist, The New York Times

"You will breeze through this accessible. practical overview of an important scientific story and will certainly agree that the body is not an innocent bystander in this mind business."
--Antonio Damasio, author of Descartes' Error

"A fascinating exploration of senses we didn't even know we had, this compelling account of new research findings underscores how much of our human nature is meditated not by thinking but by profoundly somatic ways of knowing. This new science strongly suggests that we can trust and train various aspects of awareness to our immediate and enduring benefit."
--Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Coming to our Senses