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Tuesday, 30 March 2021

ℚ♫ A Million Things To Ask A Neuroscientist - Mike Tranter PhD

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about A Million Things To Ask A Neuroscientist (, Mike Tranter, 232 pages), a non-fiction, easy popular brain science.

"Dr. Tranter explains things in a way even the most non-science-oriented ones (like me) can understand. Not only are the explanations easy to understand, he has some comments that made me literally laugh out loud and interrupt my husband’s reading to share with him." ~ Long and Short Reviews

"Really great read! No matter what your level of understanding in neuroscience is there is something for everyone, very well written, extremely interesting, highly recommend!" ~ Amazon reviewer

|| Synopsis || Teaser: KCR Preview || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

A very warm welcome to Mike Tranter; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

Here at BooksChatter we love music; do you have a music playlist that you used in A Million Things To Ask A Neuroscientist, or which inspired you whilst you were writing it?
"I don’t have a playlist but I have a song that I love so much, and I think it would go great with this post and my book in general. A piano cover song of ‘Where is my mind’, from the Pixies, by an artist called Maxence Cyrin."
What compelled you to write A Million Things To Ask A Neuroscientist?
"As a neuroscientist, people often tell me that “neuroscience must be very complicated “ or “Wow, that’s great, but I am not able to learn about the brain, it is too much for me”. This is simply wrong. Science is for everyone to take part in.

I wanted to write a book to take the intimidation out of the brain, and explain how it works, in a way that is fun and enjoyable, and requires absolutely no background in science."
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing this book?
"I think what struck me the most was how exciting the current research is now, and where it will take us in the future. 

I have a chapter, called ‘The Future of Neuroscience’ which guides the reader through some of the most cutting-edge research, and how it is starting to create devices that we will soon be using in our own homes.  Hand-held health scanners, headsets to control the TV with only the mind, and so many others.  There is even a company out there freezing brains in an effort to recover memories, and even reanimate them, many years in the future. 

I was surprised at just how much of this type of work is going on, and how close we are to achieving some science-fiction-level advances."
Why should we read A Million Things To Ask A Neuroscientist and what sets you apart from the rest?
"My book is unique in a few ways really, and I worked hard to make it that way.  It is written with a view that anyone – regardless of scientific background – can pick it up and read through (provided you start at the beginning of the book, where many of my own illustrations are).  But it also has footnotes, for those readers who like an additional challenge.

It also answers questions about the brain that were actually asked by you, the readers.  I started a social media campaign to get the best questions from the general public, and they were the ones that made it into the book, that I answer.  Some of them are strange and unique, and there will be something in it for everyone."
What has been your greatest challenge in writing this book?
"As a scientist, most of my job requires me to write with long ‘sciencey’ words, acronyms, and Latin names for things.  It is tricky, but after a number of years, you get used to it. 

It was actually quite a challenge to take all of the science and research, and strip it of a lot of those words, and frankly, things you generally don’t need to read.  That way, the reader can easily get the main points and features of what the brain is doing, without a lot of the mess.  Although, some sciencey words do appear throughout, for those interested (come on, I had to add a few)."
Can you share with us a favourite passage from A Million Things To Ask A Neuroscientist>
"Here is an excerpt from a question about dreams.  I talk about a study that was able to talk to a person as they slept, and were dreaming.  They were in a dream state called lucid dreaming, where you are aware you are dreaming, as it is happening."
“Training a group of people to experience lucid dreaming in their sleep labs, the team were able to have two-way communication with the dreamers. They asked the dreamers to answer simple arithmetic, such as 8 − 6, and the dreamer was able to respond back with eye movements (each movement represented a number). They remained dreaming but were able to hear the question as part of their dream. Some heard it as a voice‐over, others through their dream-like radio playing in the background.”
Oh, wow! That is impressive!

Who would you recommend A Million Things To Ask A Neuroscientist to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?

"I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in learning about something new, and challenging themselves.  Anyone who has read books explaining science before, for things like emotions, sleep, mood disorders, or just general biology, will especially enjoy it.  However, I made sure to write it in a way that anyone who wants to learn, can!"
Which do you think you have the most of: talent, intelligence, education, or persistence?  How has it helped you in your life?
"Absolutely, it is persistence.  It is one of the most underrated characteristics that you can have.  It is not immediately obvious, when someone meets you (by definition, persistence takes a while to show) but it will get results.  Whatever those results are for you.  Even the smartest, most talented people, don’t go as far as they can, if they aren't persistent with whatever it is they are doing. 

Hard work, consistency, and persistence, are what gives you the chance to really go for your dream, and sadly, I don’t think some people realise it can be that simple.  Absolutely, it is difficult, but simple."
What has been the worst advice you received as a writer?  What has been the best?
"The best advice was just to start writing.  It can be daunting when staring at a blank page.  That could be page one of the book, or page one of a new chapter, or even just a new page when you can’t think of what you need to write.  I have my own system to help with that, but it is based off the idea of just writing something.  It will help.

The worst advice however, was to use social media to drive book sales.  I knew from day one that was incorrect, but the amount of people who think it is true, is a little concerning.  Social media can be a great tool, especially when looking for feedback, or to open up a dialogue with your readers.  It is amazing for that, and I make a big effort to respond to everyone who messages.  For sales, however, I think people are sick of getting adverts shoved in their face, and most use social media to get away from a lot of that, and to express their own creativity.  Sales generally come from other places."
Do you feel differently about yourself now from how you felt when you were younger?  Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to your younger self?
"I feel that I have a lot more confidence in myself today, than ever before. I think for me, it slowly built up over years, and so my message to my younger self would be to not worry what other people think about you. 

Try and be a good person, and do what you think is right, the rest is really out of your control.  You only get one life, and it is not necessarily an easy one, so just try and feel good about yourself, and go from there."
Can you tell us about your writing process, and does this change depending on the focus of your current piece of work and who you are working with?
"My writing process is fairly consistent.  I research a lot.  For my science book explaining the brain, that is more obvious research.  Things like experiments, and data etc, but even for the fiction book I am writing, I research a lot for it.  Character history, locations, you name it.

Then, I make sure to bullet point all of it.  After that, I produce a skinny version of those bullet points – only the necessary information.

From here, I use that to write a sentence, then a paragraph, and then a chapter.  By having this outline, I never really feel like I don’t know what to write, because it is all there in the points.  It is kind of like filling in the blanks from this point.

Of course, there are many redrafts and edits, but that is more fine tuning."
What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted but still don’t have?
"I have always wanted a pet.  As a child I wanted a cat, but that soon changed into wanting a dog, and I have wanted one ever since.  As I moved to California only a year or so ago, I didn’t want to get a pet until I was more settled in one location.  Now, I feel like it is a good time.  The best part…….I am getting a dog in April.  I actually think it is the exact date of the book release, which is a coincidence, but a happy one."
Congratulations! They are a big responsibility but they are worth it. You'll love it! (we have 16 cats...)
And of course the book will be available on digital format on 23 April on Amazon.

What’s in store next for you as a person and writer?

"I continue to work as a full time neuroscience researcher, studying the brain, but I am writing a number of other books.

A fiction book, which is a re-telling of Dante’s Divine Comedy, whereby my main character dies, and travels the cosmos searching for the meaning of life, that he missed while he was living.

I am also writing a couple more neuroscience books, focusing on brain health, and I will be teaming up with a psychologist to explain disorders of the mind, with amazing detail."
They both sound very interesting; I look forward to them both! (I have always loved the Divine Comedy, and have an interest in brain health.)

And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?

"I like to climb mountains, and generally be outdoors.  I have climbed in the Himalayas and I have a picture of when I was at the top of one of the mountains, around 6km high."
Fantastic; thank you for sharing!  We hope you are having a great tour.

The easy way

A Million Things To Ask A Neuroscientist
Available NOW!

purchase from purchase from find on Goodreads


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting!

Sherry said...

This sounds like a very good book.