She investigates the extent, the constraints, and the implications of brain diversity, particularly at the interface between metabolism, longevity, and cognition. Most recently, she showed that theropod dinosaurs had primate-like numbers of neurons; that mammalian brains must use what energy they get, not as much as they demand; and that lifespan scales not with body size or metabolic rate, but with number of cortical neurons.
Renowned for her research, her findings have been published in prestigious journals and features in major media outlets like the New York Times Magazine and The Washington Post. She is convinced that natural selection is overrated, and that life is really “just Whatever Works.”
She is the author of The Human Advantage (MIT Press, 2016), in which she tells the story of her discoveries on how many neurons different species have —and how the number of neurons in the cerebral cortex of humans is the largest of them all, thanks to the calories amassed with a very early technology developed by our ancestors: cooking.
She’s currently working on several new books, including a neuroscience textbook.
Her books, predominantly written in her native Portuguese, are not just scientific texts; they are bridges connecting the intricate world of neuroscience to everyday life. In titles such as “The Human Advantage” and “Fique de bem com o seu cérebro,” Suzana invites readers into an engaging exploration of the brain, making complex concepts accessible and relatable.
From “Pílulas de neurociência para uma vida melhor,” which offers practical neuroscience insights for daily living, to “O cérebro adolescente,” delving into the transformation of the adolescent brain, her works cover a vast range of topics. Each book reflects her deep understanding and passion for neuroscience, aiming to enlighten and inspire readers about the brain’s wonders and its impact on our daily lives.
Suzana’s commitment to science communication is evident in “Falando ciência,” where she guides fellow scientists on effectively sharing their work with diverse audiences. Her book “Por que o bocejo é contagioso?” addresses curiosities about everyday phenomena from a neurological perspective, showcasing her ability to merge scientific rigor with engaging storytelling.