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Academic & Professional Books  Organismal to Molecular Biology  Neurobiology

Zero to Birth How the Human Brain Is Built

By: William A Harris(Author)
253 pages, 20 b/w photos and b/w illustrations
Zero to Birth
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  • Zero to Birth ISBN: 9780691253947 Paperback Jan 2024 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
  • Zero to Birth ISBN: 9780691211312 Hardback Jul 2022 In stock
Selected version: £16.99
About this book Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

By the time a baby is born, its brain is equipped with billions of intricately crafted neurons wired together through trillions of interconnections to form a compact and breathtakingly efficient supercomputer. Zero to Birth takes you on an extraordinary journey to the very edge of creation, from the moment of an egg's fertilization through each step of a human brain's development in the womb – and even a little beyond.

As pioneering experimental neurobiologist W. A. Harris guides you through the process of how the brain is built, he takes up the biggest questions that scientists have asked about the developing brain, describing many of the thrilling discoveries that were foundational to our current understanding. He weaves in a remarkable evolutionary story that begins billions of years ago in the Proterozoic aeon, when multicellular animals first emerged from single-cell organisms, and reveals how the growth of a fetal brain over nine months reflects the brain's evolution through the ages. Our brains have much in common with those of other animals, and Harris offers an illuminating look at how comparative animal studies have been crucial to understanding what makes a human brain human.

An unforgettable chronicle of one of nature's greatest achievements, Zero to Birth describes how the brain's incredible feat of orchestrated growth ensures that every brain is unique, and how breakthroughs at the frontiers of science are helping us to decode many traits that only reveal themselves later in life.

Customer Reviews


W. A. Harris is a professor emeritus of anatomy at the University of Cambridge. He is the coauthor of Development of the Nervous System and Genetic Neurobiology and the coeditor of Retinal Development. A fellow of the Royal Society, he lives in Cambridge, England.

By: William A Harris(Author)
253 pages, 20 b/w photos and b/w illustrations
Media reviews

"Using an expository style, interspersed with first-person accounts of his own research, Harris provides an authoritative synopsis of developmental neuroscience."
– R. Douglas Fields, Science

"[Zero to Birth] really is a masterpiece in terms of how much information is packed into this average sized book."
– Nicole Barbaro, Bookmarked Reads

"The story of how this development takes place is filled with as much drama as any Shakespearian plot. There are accounts of self-love and selfless cooperation, suicide and cannibalism, rivalry and survival of the fittest. All on the cellular level. And, fortunately for readers who are not experts in the field, the style makes the story comprehensible and engaging."
– Gunnel Minett, Breathwork Science

"Highly illuminating."
– Andrew Robinson, Nature

"Harris's engaging account of human brain development moves with dispatch through the key experiments in the field. His tone is warm and welcoming as he shares his wonder at discoveries already made and his optimism about those still to come. Harris captures the excitement, dare I say joy, of these discoveries in a way that is accessible to all readers."
– Susan E. Fahrbach, author of Developmental Neuroscience

"During the past hundred years, developmental biologists have discovered many of the astonishingly cunning and counterintuitive secrets of how a mere fertilized egg develops into a baby with all its immense numbers of parts in all the right places. This is the magical story Harris tells in this authoritative book."
– Patricia S. Churchland, author of Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality

"Harris takes readers on a journey across space and time in the unfolding multiverse inside the fetal head. Combining humor with state-of-the-art science, he tells the stories of the scientists who pushed the frontiers of our understanding and crafts a tale that conveys extensive knowledge and leaves you smiling."
– Moriah E. Thomason, PhD, New York University Grossman School of Medicine

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