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The benalmadense psychologist Nieves López-Brea, author of the first story about the human brain in Spain

When we look for books on the human body for children, we find numerous titles to choose from, but until now there was nothing dedicated exclusively to the human brain, beyond a few copies on the five senses. From now on, thanks to the Benalmadense psychologist Nieves López-Brea Serrat, the brain will have no secrets for the little ones, nor for adults, since he has written the first story about the functioning of the brain that has been published in Spain, through the editorial Círculo Rojo. A work that, through a simple language in the story, overflows with a commendable scientific rigor, as confirmed in his recommendation on this book, Javier Tirapu, national prize in Clinical Neuroscience. This is your brain is called to become an essential both in the bookstores of our homes, as in the different educational centers.

-Nieves, you are the first author to write a story about how the human brain works, what prompted you to develop this project? Why did you choose the story as a literary genre?

-Well, it is the first story about the human brain in Spain, I know that in other countries there are some, although very few. I am a health psychologist, the brain has always fascinated me, and later I was a mother, my daughter loved stories about the human body and saw that the only thing they said about the brain was related to the 5 senses. I started studying Child and Adolescent Neuropsychology in 2012 and since then, every time I saw my daughter with a story about the human body, I thought about the day when I would write one about the human brain. But the lack of time meant that I could not carry it out until the confinement by Covid in March 2019, that break for me was an opportunity, and without thinking I started to do it. In a month I had it ready because it had already been created in my head for a long time. My daughter, my inspiration, helped me by making one of the images in the story, the one of the brain operating the computer. 

-Perhaps there are those who can come to think that since it is a ‘story’ the scientific rigor is lost …

-I have always believed that neuroscience did not reach more people because scientists speak for scientists, using simple language makes them understand it from a child to an eminence in Neuroscience, in fact, Javier Tirapu, national prize in Clinical Neuroscience, Much admired neuropsychologist, he recently recommended my book precisely because of its scientific rigor.  

-For what age group is This is your brain recommended?

-From 6 years if you do it with an adult next to you, with 8 you can already understand very well. Although I always say that it is recommended from 6 to 99 years.

-In your book you deal with attention and memory, how would this knowledge benefit the little reader?

-Above all to understand all these cognitive processes in order to have not only a greater cognitive performance, but also a social one. Due to the abuse of technology, our attention is increasingly dispersed and memory crashes occur. I think the best thing about ending this story is that it doesn’t end, it stays within you.

-You also dedicate a section to emotions, whose management is a focus of concern on the part of the educational community …

-Yes, and I am glad that it is so, although we should not separate reason from emotion. Emotions are physical responses of our body to external or internal stimuli, causing us to respond in different ways to adapt to the situations we live in, that is, they are adaptive responses to help us. The ignorance of this means that we do not know how to regulate or adequately manage intense emotions that usually bring us the odd little problem. In fact, we can “build” our own emotional state … but this gives for another story.

-Could you tell us about some of the curiosities about the human brain that you include in your story?

-Of course, I will tell you some but there are many more:

* We have 86,000 million neurons and 200 billion connections between them, to give you an idea, galaxy clusters are the largest objects in the universe and the largest has 3 billion stars.

* It is mainly water, and its texture is gelatinous and smooth with that of a “slime”.

* It is faster than the largest computer in the world. The nerve signal runs at a speed of 432km / hour.

* Generates enough electricity to power a 12v bulb …

– Your book can become an important tool for teachers, what benefits could it bring in regulated classes?

-It is a didactic, entertaining and fun story with which you can learn in a complementary way to the content of the human body that appears in textbooks for the areas of Natural Sciences or to work on emotional self-regulation in Social and Civic Values, already that the story deals with how our brain works, feels and learns. I think it could be a very valuable tool for addressing the specific content related to the human body (relationship function, nervous system …). In fact, some centers have already acquired it as a Library collection.

-You have also created a digital educational package to “play with your brain”, what does it include?

-It is about the same contents but with the attraction that you can go playing with the brain, clicking on different areas and discovering what is hidden behind them. Private educational centers that do not use paper books too much prefer this format. And for kids who resist reading, through this game on the tablet, they get to know it too. In a few weeks the audiobook will also be released.

-To many, this Neuropsychology and Neuroeducation is not familiar to us, what do they consist of? What benefits can they bring us?

-Neuropsychology is a branch that relates Psychology and Neuroscience, studies the relationships between the brain and behavior both in healthy subjects and in those who have suffered some brain damage. We study the neural bases of complex mental processes.

Neuroeducation is the discipline that studies the functioning of the brain during the teaching and learning processes. It analyzes the development of the human brain and its interaction with different external stimuli to transform them into learning. In Spain (Barcelona) we have the first Neuroeducation Chair in the world, isn’t that great?

Both disciplines should be part of our educational system.

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