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Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps -- And What We Can Do About It Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 14, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (September 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618393110
  • ASIN: B005GNMFW2
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #857,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Professor of neuroscience at Rosalind Franklin University, Eliot (What's Going On in There?) offers a refreshingly reasonable and reassuring look at recent alarming studies about sex differences in determining the behavior of children. Her levelheaded approach recognizes assertions by the nature versus nurture advocates such as Michael Gurian, Leonard Sax, Louann Brizendine—e.g., boys lag behind girls in early development, are more risk taking and spatially adept, while girls are hardwired for verbal communication and feeling empathy—yet underscores how small the differences really are and what parents can do to resist the harmful stereotyping that grows more entrenched over time. Eliot revisits much of the data showing subtle differences in boy-girl sensory processing, memory and language circuits, brain functioning, and neural speed and efficiency, using clever charts and graphs of her own. However, she emphasizes most convincingly that the brain is marvelously plastic and can remodel itself continually to new experiences, meaning that the child comes into the world with its genetic makeup, but actually growing a boy from those XY cells or a girl from XX cells requires constant interaction with the environment. At the end of each chapter, she lists ways to nip early troubles in the bud—i.e., for boys, language and literacy enrichment; for girls, stimulating movement, visual and spatial awareness. Dense, scholarly but accessible, Eliot's work demonstrates a remarkable clarity of purpose. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Lise Eliot nimbly refutes the overemphasis on sex differences that has dominated popular thinking in our Mars and Venus age--but without resorting to a facile denial of differences, either. This is a lively, marvelously clear and readable book that combines all the latest research on sex differences with smart, sensible and humane advice to parents on how bring out the fullest potential in both boys and girls.”
—Margaret Talbot, Staff Writer, The New Yorker

“I wish that Pink Brain, Blue Brain had been available when my children were small. It’s smart about our biology, smart about our culture—and genuinely thought-provoking in considering the way the two intersect. Read it if you’re a parent seeking some savvy insight on child rearing, as a teacher looking to help students—or just read it for the pleasure of understanding yourself a little better.”
—Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Sex on the Brain: The Biological Differences Between Men and Women

“Lise Eliot surveys the real science of sex differences in a way that is clear and careful as well as entertaining, and her advice on everything from public policy to parenting is sensible and scientifically grounded.”
— Mark Liberman, University of Pennsylvania

“Lise Eliot covers a wealth of the best scientific work on gender in an accessible and engaging style. The suggestions she offers for raising and teaching children are well grounded in research and readily implemented in practice. Pink Brain, Blue Brain is an excellent resource for parents, educators, and anyone else interested in how boys and girls develop.”
—Lynn S. Liben, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Penn State University

“I can’t stop talking about Pink Brain, Blue Brain. Every time I see a toddler on a playground, or walk into a toy store, I remember some remarkable new fact I learned from Lise Eliot. This book will change the way you think about boys, girls, and how we come to be who we are.”
—Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide and Proust Was a Neuroscientist

“[a] sharp, information-packed, and wonderfully readable book” —Mother Jones

“This is an important book and highly recommended for parents, teachers, and anyone who works with children.” —Library Journal

“(a) refreshingly reasonable and reassuring look at recent alarming studies about sex differences in determining the behavior of children....Eliot’s work demonstrates a remarkable clarity of purpose.”
Publishers Weekly

“Read [this] masterful book and you'll never view the sex-differences debate the same way again.”
Newsweek

“eye-opening...[a] masterful new book on gender and the brain...Eliot’s contribution in Pink Brain, Blue Brain is to explain, clearly and authoritatively, what the research on brain-based sex difference actually shows, and to offer helpful suggestions about how we can erase the small gaps for our children instead of turning them into larger ones.”—Washington Post










“refreshingly evenhanded...Written in a readable style and organized in chapters ordered by age level, this makes some scientific concepts about brain development accessible to laypeople...Anyone interested in child development and gender studies will be enlightened.” —Booklist

"Considering the nonsense already in print (much of it erroneously presented as scientific fact), Pink Brain, Blue Brain should be required reading for anyone who wants a more thoughtful consideration of how the brains of boys and girls do—but mostly do not—differ." —Science

More About the Author

Lise Eliot, a graduate of Harvard, received her Ph.D. from Columbia University. She is Associate Professor of Neuroscience at The Chicago Medical School of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. The mother of two sons and a daughter, she is also the author of What's Going on in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 55 customer reviews
We aren't just made with pink brains or blue brains ... our brains are molded by our life experiences.
Lynette R. Fleming
Although the book is accessible like the Gurian book, its chapter notes actually contain references to real, independently verified studies of scientific research.
Roy Staples
Some good tips she gives for parents are to let boys pick books they like, which may be action or funny books.
Sara Sierociuk

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

104 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Silea TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There are a lot of reasons i should like this book: I'm a math/science/tech-oriented woman, I have an undergraduate degree in psychology, I have an infant son, I've never been terribly girly, etc. Despite all of this, and a habit of reading academic and semi-academic texts, i struggled through this book.

The one thing that really sticks with me after finishing the book is a feeling that the author spent an awful lot more time pointing out studies that have been disproved or discredited, rather than making any positive arguments or citing any validated results. It becomes almost formulaic: she'll discuss a study in some length, including the methods, the results, and the implications, and then pontificate on how this explains observational or anecdotal information. Then she'll tell you that no further studies duplicated the results, so it's all just back to square one. I do appreciate that this is how science goes sometimes, but it's an awfully long book just to say that precious few studies have shown anything at all worth believing.

A lesser complaint is that the author seemed to have trouble deciding what kind of book she was writing. At times, it was a moderately dense scholarly work, with studies and statistics and name-dropping. Other times, it's pure anecdotal accounts, suggesting a vastly less academic target audience. There were also numerous references to her own children, done in such a way as to make it seem briefly like a memoir instead of research.

There are some things i did like about this book. First, the organization. Rather than just being a heap of studies and discussion thereof, it's parsed into age groups.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne MN Fisher on August 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Pink Brain, Blue Brain is fascinating. Lise Eliot uses her knowledge and expertise as a neuroscientist to explain to us that we might be relying too much on pseudo-science in the media to inform us of how things really are in regards to boys and girls. We are bombarded not only with pseudo-science, but with actual science that is not explained fully, such as studies on rats, studies on adult brains (who's to say that adult brains developed the way they were based soley on biology?), and studies on children who have been influenced already.

Eliot emphasizes we can't make cut-and-dry declarations about human male and female brains unless we go into fetal studies or newborn studies, which are few and far between. Besides the interesting discussion of science, at the end of each chapter Eliot lists a few things parents and teachers can do to make sure children can live up to their capabilities. The chapters are divided easily into age groups. This book is very helpful to anyone interested in the differences between males and females and wanting a little more scientific oomph than screaming headlines.

***************************

I have to add to this review. This book is not a difficult read if taken in little steps as I did. I wouldn't try to sit down and read it through; it's about neuroscience and includes lots of information and data. The author's point is that we shouldn't believe everything we're told about male and female brains, not without understanding how that data was acquired.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Toodles! VINE VOICE on October 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was a little torn with how to rate this book. I give it just 4 stars out of 5 because I expected a book that was generally "for parents" and not for the medical/psychology area. On the back of the book it states "And she offers parents and teachers concrete ways to help. Presenting the latest science regarding development from birth to puberty, ..." I zeroed in on the first part - "parents". However, the latter part is more true, she focuses a lot on science. However, I love research and analyzing, so I feel this book was helpful.

Pros:
* Makes footnotes available on the page when needed - this is helpful to expand on the thought or background.
* This is research based and not just what she feels like or pulls out of a hat (although I do believe you can get enough research material to build a case any way you want)
* @ 83 pages of Notes and Bibliography at the end. I love this! If I want more information, I feel like I could dig further if I wanted to.
* Fairly easy to pick up and jump in at various points - you don't have to read cover to cover.

Cons:
* 18 pages of introduction - just get to the point
* seems to linger on topics and points to various research - just make the point
* this seems more technical than I thought it was going to be when I selected the book. I bet it could be even more technical if she wanted it to be - its at least readable for those of us not in Science/Medicine.

My recommendation: It depends. If you like details/analytics - go for it. If you are looking for an easy-to-read Parent book - this is not for you.

about me: female w/ business and IT master degrees and twin toddlers.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Tethys VINE VOICE on August 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am a geologist, but I found that I was familiar with most of the research presented in the book, because I have read about endocrine disrupters in several books in the past. I was, therefore, a little disappointed that very little research progress seems to have been made over the past 5 yrs since I looked into the subject. And while I appreciate the fact that she did go through the details of some of that previous research and explain why the results were good or bad, I felt it made the book a bit tedious at times. I understand that she was trying to be fair and balanced by presenting all of the research done and discussing all of it in detail. This is a scientist's way of handling a controversial issue.
However, I disagree with other reviewers that including these studies and discussion of them is pointless. I was recently diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and I had read several articles that linked it to Simon Baron-Cohen's extreme male brain hypothesis. I don't feel that I have an extremely male brain, just one that is organized a bit differently than other people, so I already had questions about this hypothesis and found her discussion of his research very useful in understanding that there is no official documentation of this hypothesis.
That said, I think that for the average person there is too much information on the science side and no enough on the tools you can implement side. If this book is really geared toward teachers and parents, then I think the science could have been presented in a more accessible way. I think it would have been more useful if she had discussed a few articles that lead to a specific point (e.g.
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