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The Spaces Between Us: A Story of Neuroscience, Evolution, and Human Nature

Michael Graziano

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Oxford University Press Inc
22 February 2018
Physiological & neuro-psychology, biopsychology; Cognition & cognitive psychology; Clinical psychology; Mathematics & Sciences
Each of us has a protected zone two or three feet wide, swelling around the head and narrowing towards the feet. This zone isn't fixed in size: if you're nervous, it grows; if you're relaxed, it shrinks. It also depends on your cultural upbringing. Personal space is small in Japan and large in Australia. This safety zone, called personal space, provides an invisible spatial scaffold that frames our social interactions.

As Michael Graziano argues in The Spaces Between Us, it also organises our social and emotional spacing, influences our facial expressions, and shapes our interactions with everyday objects including tools, furniture, and clothing. Even ordinary actions like walking are informed by a continuous under-the-surface calculation of threats and obstacles around the body: what Graziano calls a virtual bubble-wrap of active neurons that fire and move us to action, even before we may be conscious of our course corrections in real time. Humans evolved a complex way of interacting with others and their environment, and The Spaces Between Us looks at how this infrastructure may have led to the first smile and to a host of other human activities, from tool use, to courtship, and to a sense of self. The book concludes with a case study of Graziano's son, who had heart-breaking difficulties developing a functioning personal space.

Written with poignant narrative clarity, Graziano makes the case for the interested scientific public that this system in the brain is more than a fascinating scientific topic: it's deeply personal and shapes our human nature.
By:   Michael Graziano
Imprint:   Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 241mm,  Width: 164mm,  Spine: 21mm
Weight:   446g
ISBN:   9780190461010
ISBN 10:   0190461012
Pages:   216
Publication Date:   22 February 2018
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  College/higher education ,  Undergraduate ,  Further / Higher Education
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Michael S. A. Graziano is a professor of neuroscience at Princeton University. He is an internationally renowned scientist and an award winning novelist. For thirty years he has studied the brain basis of movement control, personal space, and conscious experience. He is also a science columnist, writing for the New York Times, The Atlantic, and other magazines.

Reviews for The Spaces Between Us: A Story of Neuroscience, Evolution, and Human Nature

The Spaces Between Us is a sparkling example of popular science-writing, mainly on the strength of Graziano's smart but affable teaching ability. The range of his curiosity about everything from the minute discriminations of laughter to the mysteries of the 'hand blink' reflex is inherently inviting, and the result is a book that will have readers questioning their every tiny twitch and shrug. --Open Letters Monthly


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