The Happy Brain by Dean Burnett review – the science of happiness

The neuroscientist, comedian and science blogger rattles through studies and reflects on his own life in a quest to find the secret of contentment

As a neuroscientist, comedian and Guardian science blogger, Dean Burnett knows that science communication is both important and hard to get right. Early in this book he expresses his frustration with the way that the media often sensationalise research to sell a story. In one newspaper, the following headlines all purported to reveal the latest scientific truth about how to be happy: “Forget cash – how sex and sleep are the key to happiness”; “Key to happiness? Start with £50k a year salary”; “Why the secret to happiness is having 37 things to wear”… Readers would be forgiven for thinking that it’s all nonsense. So how does a responsible scientist condense all of the relevant research and make it accessible?

The Burnett method is to combine ...