02 October 2018
Sarah-Jayne Blakemore and Brian Cox

Image on right credit to Royal Society

Penguin Random House author and award-winning neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore has won the 2018 Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize for revolutionising the way we think about the brain in Inventing Ourselves (Doubleday). 

In her exciting book debut, Sarah-Jayne draws upon her cutting-edge research to explain what happens inside the adolescent brain, what her team’s experiments have revealed about our behaviour, and how we relate to each other and our environment as we go through this period of our lives. She shows that while adolescence is a period of vulnerability, it is also a time of enormous creativity – one that should be acknowledged, nurtured and celebrated. 

Four other Penguin Random House titles were included on this year’s six-strong shortlist for the prize: Hello World by Hannah Fry (Doubleday), The Unexpected Truth About Animals by Lucy Cooke (Black Swan), The Beautiful Cure by Daniel M Davis (Bodley Head) and Liquid by Mark Miodownik (Viking).

Speaking about this year’s winning title, Chair of this year’s panel Professor Dame Frances Ashcroft, Professor of Physiology at the University of Oxford and author, said: 

“Any of the shortlisted titles would have been a worthy winner. However, Inventing Ourselves stood out because it addresses an important but somewhat neglected area that affects every one of us. It’s a completely captivating read on the teenage brain written by a leading expert in the field. Blakemore explains the science behind teenage behaviour in a lucid and engaging way, deconstructs the myths that surround it, offers new insight into how we should treat teenagers, and reflects on how our new knowledge might usefully influence policy decisions. She illustrates all this with engaging anecdotes from her own teenage years, so that the book is both an entertaining memoir and a scientific study of how the adolescent brain develops – of how we become ourselves. This is truly a book that everyone should read.”

Professor Brian Cox OBE FRS, the Royal Society’s Professor for Public Engagement in Science, hosted the awards ceremony at the Royal Society and added:

“The best science writing helps us to look at ourselves and our world in new ways, and does this by combining compelling storytelling with scientific depth and detail. This book not only has all of these qualities, but also has something to offer every reader - whether you are a teenager, parent of a teenager, or just interested in understanding your former teenage self.

“It is also particularly gratifying to know that it was a research fellowship from the Royal Society that helped kick-start Sarah-Jayne Blakemore’s work in this very important field of adolescent brain development. I know from personal experience just how valuable the research fellowship scheme is as it helped my career a great deal.”

You can watch the 2018 award ceremony here, presented by Professor Brian Cox.

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