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What if you had the power to change your brain for the better? In Soft-Wired, Dr. Michael Merzenich--a world authority on brain plasticity--explains how the brain rewires itself across the lifespan, and how you can take control of that process to improve your life. In addition to fascinating descriptions of how your brain has produced your unique memories, skills, quirks, a What if you had the power to change your brain for the better? In Soft-Wired, Dr. Michael Merzenich--a world authority on brain plasticity--explains how the brain rewires itself across the lifespan, and how you can take control of that process to improve your life. In addition to fascinating descriptions of how your brain has produced your unique memories, skills, quirks, and emotions, Soft-Wired offers sound advice for evaluating your brain and gives clear, specific, scientifically proven guidance for how to rejuvenate, remodel, and reshape your brain to improve it at any age.


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What if you had the power to change your brain for the better? In Soft-Wired, Dr. Michael Merzenich--a world authority on brain plasticity--explains how the brain rewires itself across the lifespan, and how you can take control of that process to improve your life. In addition to fascinating descriptions of how your brain has produced your unique memories, skills, quirks, a What if you had the power to change your brain for the better? In Soft-Wired, Dr. Michael Merzenich--a world authority on brain plasticity--explains how the brain rewires itself across the lifespan, and how you can take control of that process to improve your life. In addition to fascinating descriptions of how your brain has produced your unique memories, skills, quirks, and emotions, Soft-Wired offers sound advice for evaluating your brain and gives clear, specific, scientifically proven guidance for how to rejuvenate, remodel, and reshape your brain to improve it at any age.

30 review for Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    While this book provided some good insights, I wasn't able to reconcile this with the lack quality of the content, having previously read Norman Doige's "The Brain that Changes Itself". Ultimately my criticism of this book hinges on three main aspects. Firstly, the constant and blatant self-promotion of the author's Brain HQ website (which I looked at and think is vastly inferior to Lumosity). I would also like to note my personal annoyance with the authors exclusive use of case studies in relat While this book provided some good insights, I wasn't able to reconcile this with the lack quality of the content, having previously read Norman Doige's "The Brain that Changes Itself". Ultimately my criticism of this book hinges on three main aspects. Firstly, the constant and blatant self-promotion of the author's Brain HQ website (which I looked at and think is vastly inferior to Lumosity). I would also like to note my personal annoyance with the authors exclusive use of case studies in relation to his own program, as it was also done in a self-advertising manner. Furthermore I did not appreciate the link to his website at the end of every single chapter. My second criticism is the lack of scientific detail to explain and support the author's key theories of neuroplasticity. While I understand the demographic was every day people and thus the author did not want to exclude the majority of the general population by requiring any assumed knowledge, I thought the author could have made some effort to explain key processes and theories so the reader could gain a valuable understanding in the area neuroscience, which is inextricably linked with the idea of neuroplasticity. Lastly, I was severely disappointed with the lack of detail and quantity of case studies. The author is an experienced physician, and he would doubtlessly have very valuable clinical experiences that could have been used to exemplify and illustrate his key ideas in an applied manner to the reader, but unfortunately he failed to do so. While this book had some redeeming aspects, I was ultimately incredibly disappointed. Most likely for the readers who reviewed this book favourably, it was their first experience reading a book about neuroplasticity. If this is true, I cannot emphasis enough that comparatively, Norman Doidge's book is a significantly more relevant, educational and consequently a vastly more enjoyable book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Virginia MD

    In Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life Dr. Michael Merzenich shares some of what he has learned during his career as a pioneer in the field of brain plasticity. The focus of Soft-Wired is on the practical implications of the discovery that our brains continue to change, and can even improve, throughout our lives. Although I am very familiar with the science presented in Soft-wired, I recommend reading this book no matter what your background. I found Soft-wire In Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life Dr. Michael Merzenich shares some of what he has learned during his career as a pioneer in the field of brain plasticity. The focus of Soft-Wired is on the practical implications of the discovery that our brains continue to change, and can even improve, throughout our lives. Although I am very familiar with the science presented in Soft-wired, I recommend reading this book no matter what your background. I found Soft-wired compelling because of the way Dr. Merzenich includes the stories of many real people facing a wide variety of cognitive challenges. I also enjoyed his reflections on his own life and career; but what really makes this book stand out is its combination of optimism and practical advice. Every choice we make changes our brain, so it is up to us to make choices that tap our brain’s plasticity in a good way. This means embracing challenges and avoiding ruts, which is exactly the opposite of what most people do as they get older. The brain-healthy habits that Dr. Merzenich champions can be applied at any age, but it is never too soon, or too late to start. "No matter how much you've struggled, no matter where you've been, in a sense, in your life, you're in charge, you could say, of your life going forward. And you have the capacity, you have the resources to change things for the better—always have that capacity. And that's what the book is trying to emphasize. “ (Quote from episode 105 of the Brain Science Podcast, which is available at http://brainsciencepodcast.com and in iTunes.)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne

    I read this by assignment from my friend, Carolee and under protest because I usually avoid self-help books like the plague. Basically, the premise is that after our 30s, we are getting dumber by the minute, but there are things you can do to intervene in the dumbing-down process. I'm sure Carolee has noticed my ever-increasing befuddlement and is just trying to be a good friend. Luckily, it turns out that some of the things you can do to stave off senility are things I like to do anyway. Sadly, I read this by assignment from my friend, Carolee and under protest because I usually avoid self-help books like the plague. Basically, the premise is that after our 30s, we are getting dumber by the minute, but there are things you can do to intervene in the dumbing-down process. I'm sure Carolee has noticed my ever-increasing befuddlement and is just trying to be a good friend. Luckily, it turns out that some of the things you can do to stave off senility are things I like to do anyway. Sadly, my mother liked to do those things too, but she, nonetheless, is pretty loopy in her old-age. I have a sneaking suspicion that biology is more or less destiny, but if there is anything I can do to prolong the life-span of my brain cells, I guess I'd better get to it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    I am a bit on the fence about this book--the message and the information could have been conveyed in a book half the length.  The personal stories and anecdotes were depressing, frightening, and unnecessary.  But the redeeming quality: the main points were great, and I learned a lot about the brain that's really cool and I'm going to practice what he recommended (though I might not buy the brain plasticity software he's selling)!  No more do I use a GPS! I try not to take my brain "out of action I am a bit on the fence about this book--the message and the information could have been conveyed in a book half the length.  The personal stories and anecdotes were depressing, frightening, and unnecessary.  But the redeeming quality: the main points were great, and I learned a lot about the brain that's really cool and I'm going to practice what he recommended (though I might not buy the brain plasticity software he's selling)!  No more do I use a GPS! I try not to take my brain "out of action." Reading this also changed the way my friend and I do our afternoon walks.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Seniortopia

    If you, like me, were taught in science class that we were born with all the neurons our brains would ever have and it was all downhill from there, you need to read this book. The author is an award-winning neuroscientist and one of the people responsible for overturning those old-fashioned notions of an unchanging brain. His research on cochlear implants and other brain plasticity discoveries have earned him nearly 100 patents! Far from being a boring account of all his research, this book uses If you, like me, were taught in science class that we were born with all the neurons our brains would ever have and it was all downhill from there, you need to read this book. The author is an award-winning neuroscientist and one of the people responsible for overturning those old-fashioned notions of an unchanging brain. His research on cochlear implants and other brain plasticity discoveries have earned him nearly 100 patents! Far from being a boring account of all his research, this book uses fascinating examples of real-life people to bring to life some pretty compelling theories on how our brains can and do change throughout our lives. How's this for a great quote: "There are things that are left unfulfilled, unmastered unlearned in almost every adult life. As we grow older, we have an increasingly clear understanding of what we would really enjoy spending more time doing. What things in your life remain unexplored and undone? Your plastic brain is waiting for you to take greater advantage of your potential for further personal development." The book explains the science behind how our brains grow and learn using lay terms that I found easy to follow and understand. Some of the most interesting passages for me were the ones in which he gets into how negative reinforcement can powerfully remodel our brains -- backwards!-- as we age. For instance, how if we start to be fearful of falling, and start walking more slowly, looking down instead of up, we get less data from our surroundings, which makes it more likely we will fall! And if we keep turning the TV up to hear better, it actually degrades our hearing! "It is tremendously destructive for you to tell yourself that 'you can't,' if, in fact, succeeding just requires a little more serious effort and practice on your part. Your brain registers all of that negative messaging. When you tell your brain 'I can't' just a little too often, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy." According to Dr. Merzenich, simply "staying active" by doing things we are already good at, like playing golf or even doing crossword puzzles, is not going to help our brain health. He explains the physical changes that happen in the areas of the brain that become inactive through disuse as we age, leading to senile dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. The science isn't quite there yet, but he says there are strong indications that if we engage our brains in ways that assure our higher brain functions don't start to go "off line" in the first place, we might be able to prevent dementia and even Alzheimers Disease. "The brain is a learning machine. it is begging for new learning. Especially past the midpoint of life, most adult individuals are feeding it nothing but the same old stuff." He goes on to explain that content acquisition is not the same as learning and will not keep our brains healthy. Our brains need surprises, they need cobblestone streets, not smooth tile. We need contact with nature, not hours in a gym that is the same every day. Dr. Merzenich gives a long list of free and simple ways we can reorganize our everyday lives to achieve improved brain fitness. And at the very end of the book, there is a pitch for an online brain fitness program developed by Dr. Merzenich called Brain HQ. If challenge anyone to read this book and not change the way you take care of your brain!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Julie Capell

    If you, like me, were taught in science class that we were born with all the neurons our brains would ever have and it was all downhill from there, you need to read this book. The author is an award-winning neuroscientist and one of the people responsible for overturning those old-fashioned notions of an unchanging brain. His research on cochlear implants and other brain plasticity discoveries have earned him nearly 100 patents! Far from being a boring account of all his research, this book uses If you, like me, were taught in science class that we were born with all the neurons our brains would ever have and it was all downhill from there, you need to read this book. The author is an award-winning neuroscientist and one of the people responsible for overturning those old-fashioned notions of an unchanging brain. His research on cochlear implants and other brain plasticity discoveries have earned him nearly 100 patents! Far from being a boring account of all his research, this book uses fascinating examples of real-life people to bring to life some pretty compelling theories on how our brains can and do change throughout our lives. How's this for a great quote: "There are things that are left unfulfilled, unmastered unlearned in almost every adult life. As we grow older, we have an increasingly clear understanding of what we would really enjoy spending more time doing. What things in your life remain unexplored and undone? Your plastic brain is waiting for you to take greater advantage of your potential for further personal development." The book explains the science behind how our brains grow and learn using lay terms that I found easy to follow and understand. Some of the most interesting passages for me were the ones in which he gets into how negative reinforcement can powerfully remodel our brains -- backwards!-- as we age. For instance, how if we start to be fearful of falling, and start walking more slowly, looking down instead of up, we get less data from our surroundings, which makes it more likely we will fall! And if we keep turning the TV up to hear better, it actually degrades our hearing! "It is tremendously destructive for you to tell yourself that 'you can't,' if, in fact, succeeding just requires a little more serious effort and practice on your part. Your brain registers all of that negative messaging. When you tell your brain 'I can't' just a little too often, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy." According to Dr. Merzenich, simply "staying active" by doing things we are already good at, like playing golf or even doing crossword puzzles, is not going to help our brain health. He explains the physical changes that happen in the areas of the brain that become inactive through disuse as we age, leading to senile dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. The science isn't quite there yet, but he says there are strong indications that if we engage our brains in ways that assure our higher brain functions don't start to go "off line" in the first place, we might be able to prevent dementia and even Alzheimers Disease. "The brain is a learning machine. it is begging for new learning. Especially past the midpoint of life, most adult individuals are feeding it nothing but the same old stuff." He goes on to explain that content acquisition is not the same as learning and will not keep our brains healthy. Our brains need surprises, they need cobblestone streets, not smooth tile. We need contact with nature, not hours in a gym that is the same every day. Dr. Merzenich gives a long list of free and simple ways we can reorganize our everyday lives to achieve improved brain fitness. And at the very end of the book, there is a pitch for an online brain fitness program developed by Dr. Merzenich called Brain HQ. If challenge anyone to read this book and not change the way you take care of your brain!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andy Quan

    Soft-wired is an odd mix of relentlessly cheery home-spun wisdom and science. While the scientific basis for being able to change our brains for the better may have been proven, the advice oftens comes off as the regular stuff of self-help guides: make more friends, take up new hobbies, have a positive attitude. We got this book as we’d read the best-seller, ‘The Brain That Changes Itself’, by Norman Doidge which referenced Merzenich and his online brain-training program, BrainHQ. I remember abs Soft-wired is an odd mix of relentlessly cheery home-spun wisdom and science. While the scientific basis for being able to change our brains for the better may have been proven, the advice oftens comes off as the regular stuff of self-help guides: make more friends, take up new hobbies, have a positive attitude. We got this book as we’d read the best-seller, ‘The Brain That Changes Itself’, by Norman Doidge which referenced Merzenich and his online brain-training program, BrainHQ. I remember absolutely loving the book. It changed my received ideas about how the brain works. I had absorbed the common beliefs that the brain matures until is adult and then is unchangeable, basically, and then deteriorates. So, I was pretty somewhat confounded to read that this was untrue, and excited to be given the evidence of a new perspective. The presentation of the new worldview and science was in the form of engaging case studies, and I was so inspired by the book that I joined, for a time, Merzenich’s online brain-training program, BrainHQ, and convinced myself to memorise a Bach prelude (as a challenge, and a way to exercise my brain). But this book, Soft-wired, though on the same subject of brain plasticity, may be trying to make the same points as the other book, but is poorly written. The author tries to convey so much information that it is dizzying, and yet, the tone, sort of a carnival barker constantly exhorting about the wonders of the human brain, is tiring, particularly when it seems the end point is to promote his research, his institute or his brain-training programs. He even spends a chapter saying that he knows it looks like he is promoting his own programs, but that he really believes them, so it’s not really promoting them. The case studies, which should be interesting, lack the detail that would bring them alive. The material, for a general reader, isn’t differentiated enough so starts to all melt together. And an assumption is made about the reader, that we are all seeking help for our brain problems and are all generally headed in the same direction, towards recovery and progress and self-improvement. It’s a nice idea, but it always feels condescending when you’re being lectured to. In another section, he actually says that he is purposely trying to bore you as a reader to make a point. He succeeded in boring me but I lost the point, and instead from that point on began speed-reading. But then I followed one of the main pieces of his advice, which is try to pay attention, focus, and take in new information. So I impressed myself by managing to get to the end of this book. For you, dear reader, I’d say: don’t bother with this book. Read Doidge’s, and then if you love that one so much, and are truly inspired, probably as an older person, to keep your brain healthy, you could read this as a sort of follow-up, or perhaps just go to the BrainHQ and start on those brain exercises!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda Sue

    The author is one of the fathers of neuroplasticity, how your brain changes and what you can do to change it. The book is written in lay terms, the chapters are nice and short, and there's not even one picture of the brain as in most of these neuroscience books. This is not a bad thing. Part 1 is about how your brain is not hard-wired, but soft-wired and that your brain is a work in progress. There are stories of people who changed as they aged. Basically, your brain is not fixed at birth like t The author is one of the fathers of neuroplasticity, how your brain changes and what you can do to change it. The book is written in lay terms, the chapters are nice and short, and there's not even one picture of the brain as in most of these neuroscience books. This is not a bad thing. Part 1 is about how your brain is not hard-wired, but soft-wired and that your brain is a work in progress. There are stories of people who changed as they aged. Basically, your brain is not fixed at birth like the old science believed. Part 2 discusses brain plasticity throughout life. From baby to old age, your brain changes then reverts back and shrinks but you can still regain brain power. Here are some fundamentals: Change is mostly limited to those situations in which the brain is in the mood for it. The harder we try, the more motivated and alert, the bigger the brain change. Neuronal connections change by practice and repetition. Learning drives changes in connections, more cell to cell cooperation. Mental rehearsal yields changes. Memory guides and controls most learning. The author claims we peak in our 30s. He talks about his brain training software and one called Fast ForWord that I've read about in other brain books. This training has helped many people improve their lives including children with brain issues. As we age, our brain slow down. This section is a bit scary to read and digest. Most of us don't want to hear it. Our hippocampus shrinks after 60. There are chapters on Alzheimer's and what we can do to reverse or stop some of the neurological issues. Part 5 talks about strengthening your brain via brain training. For more check out BrainHQ.com . The good news is that we can improve our brain health. Here are some ways: take on new activities, learn new skills and make steady progress. It needs to be matter and be rewarding. New learning is required and it needs to have difficulty. Learn a new language, music, and listen. Exercise 30 minutes a day, have a healthy diet. Pills are not the answer. Get off you butt-don't sit so much. Do something new daily. Seek and delight in positive surprise, regrow your confident self, make new friends, laugh a lot, got to a cultural/social event you didn't like much, redefine yourself, monitor and assess yourself, and enrich your life continuously. There is sort of a pitch for buying and using the software training. www.soft-wired.com will have more information. If you're got some brain issues, I would suggest checking out the website and the brain training exercises.

  9. 4 out of 5

    nick

    I saw a program product advertisement on PBS for The Brain Fitness Program, Brain H Q, & this book. after watching it for almost 2 hours, my excitement peeked. I had to find it, to no avail. obviously I eventually found the book, but reviews kind of knocked me back. so I told myself "keep this concept/ideas in mind. an I basically do this stuff anyway". I then found the book for free on kindles lending library. its better then expected. the bad reviews, multiple reviews, are correct though. (wit I saw a program product advertisement on PBS for The Brain Fitness Program, Brain H Q, & this book. after watching it for almost 2 hours, my excitement peeked. I had to find it, to no avail. obviously I eventually found the book, but reviews kind of knocked me back. so I told myself "keep this concept/ideas in mind. an I basically do this stuff anyway". I then found the book for free on kindles lending library. its better then expected. the bad reviews, multiple reviews, are correct though. (without spoilers) science explanation of repair & excelling in various ways relating to the authors program, geared toward any age but mostly older, and simply the body its self (but not hard to understand). technology. variety of patient storys. a bit historical. learning a little more about other things. even things you probably didn't expect to be talked about in this book. if you've never read into this before or know things here an there, this would be a perfect starter book or along those lines.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jorge Rodighiero

    I value Doctor Merzenich work and how it has helped so many, but this book was a disappointment. A tiny bit of science, a moderate amount of anecdotal evidence (written in a boring way), and a lot of advertisement of his own tool to promote neuroplasticity. At least he acknowledges it: "this book may sound a little like an advertisement. But my own motive is a simple one: these programs represent the grand product of my life's work." If you want to learn about neuroplasticity, read Norman Doidge's I value Doctor Merzenich work and how it has helped so many, but this book was a disappointment. A tiny bit of science, a moderate amount of anecdotal evidence (written in a boring way), and a lot of advertisement of his own tool to promote neuroplasticity. At least he acknowledges it: "this book may sound a little like an advertisement. But my own motive is a simple one: these programs represent the grand product of my life's work." If you want to learn about neuroplasticity, read Norman Doidge's "The Brain that Changes Itself"

  11. 4 out of 5

    Miguel Panão

    Discovering something new Soft-wired has changed my perspective about brain plasticity. I heard about it and felt the effects of not keeping my brain healthy in the last years. But hearing from experts like Mike that it is reversible makes perfect sense. I learn with this book and you’ll learn too.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    I found this read quite two-sided. Some good ideas:some self serving ideas. It seemed he leaned in the direction that most people need a lot of his kind of help to motivate a healthy brain. Well maybe so/maybe not. Maybe he doesn’t expect a healthy brain to read his book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Madhur Ahuja

    Too much needless extra material in book. Could have been 50% shorter.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jmp

    Wonderful Many ideas for keeping brain and life energized and interesting

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hollis Fishelson-holstine

    really enjoyed info but slow and a bit too much detail and anecdotes for me. also not that well written. but final chapters were worthwhile

  16. 4 out of 5

    Juan

    Good read Merzenich gives useful explanations and insight on plasticity. Strategies are a bit vague. The book feels like a sales pitch for his program.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Martin Bortnick

    Great Book Excellent book. Excellent telling of the still emerging science of Neuro plasticity. I highly recommend this book and the website talked about in the book with exercises.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marylori Rieth

    A book everyone should read The brain is a little less a mystery thanks to the research of the author, Dr. Michael Merzenich. I got a little bored with some of the middle chapters not because they weren't interesting but I wanted to cut to the chase and start my brain exercises on the web site. The brain is an amazing thing. A book everyone should read The brain is a little less a mystery thanks to the research of the author, Dr. Michael Merzenich. I got a little bored with some of the middle chapters not because they weren't interesting but I wanted to cut to the chase and start my brain exercises on the web site. The brain is an amazing thing.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mary Lou

    Dr. Michael Merzenich’s 2013 book Soft-Wired is based on over 20 years of research he and other brain scientists have performed that demonstrate that “the adult human brain is powerfully self-adjusting. It’s soft-wired, not hard-wired” (Soft-Wired, Michael Merzenich, Parnassus Publishing, LLC, 2013, p. 28). His remedial work on brain redevelopment was first done with children who had severe deafness or reading deficiencies. Later research extended to adults with various physical and behavioral l Dr. Michael Merzenich’s 2013 book Soft-Wired is based on over 20 years of research he and other brain scientists have performed that demonstrate that “the adult human brain is powerfully self-adjusting. It’s soft-wired, not hard-wired” (Soft-Wired, Michael Merzenich, Parnassus Publishing, LLC, 2013, p. 28). His remedial work on brain redevelopment was first done with children who had severe deafness or reading deficiencies. Later research extended to adults with various physical and behavioral limitations. As he watched clients regain their memory and ability to function normally (even after traumatic accidents), he then turned his research attention to developing brain-expanding programs that are applicable at any age. He discovered that people can learn how to maximize their brain’s potential throughout life due to the brain’s plasticity. Merzenich describes the normal development of the brain from infancy through old age and cites how the brain is affected by people’s circumstances and input. “In the older child and adult, in most brain regions, the plasticity ‘switch’ is mostly turned “OFF”…Plasticity is only flipped to “ON” – permanent changes in the brain’s machinery are only permitted – under certain circumstances: • When you pay careful attention or focus on a task or goal • When you (your brain) are (is) rewarded or punished – or expects rewards or punishment • When your brain positively evaluates your performance in a goal-directed behavior • When your brain is surprised by – or potentially threatened by – something new or unexpected… Changes in the brain resulting from learning any new skill are massive….Gaining greater learning power is a core aspect of growing and sustaining your own brain health.” (pp.47,48,49,51). Merzenich’s emphasis empowers people to take responsibility for their own brain health. Unlike previous books on brain plasticity, as much as one-fourth of Merzenich’s book targets older people (age 60 and up), pleading with them to change their lifestyle so they can keep their brain active and growing and forestall or even reverse the deterioration of the brain that usually accompanies old age. His mother was afflicted with Alzheimer’s and he believes through active brain rejuvenation people can be kept from this disease. He describes activities that cause the brain to thrive and gives convincing proof of the efficacy of those activities. Brain health and growth is applicable for all ages. Therefore, this is an important book for all generations. Mary Lou Codman-Wilson, Ph.D. 1/6/14

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrei Vajna

    The book is the conclusion of the author's lifetime of work. While the book is useful in general, it's filled with information about the author's work and business, it has a strong focus on age-related issues and severe mental issues. So if that does not apply to you, be prepared to read through it or maybe just skip those parts. The message of the book boils down to this: - the brain has the ability to change its shape and connections, thus gaining new skills and engraving behaviours - however, The book is the conclusion of the author's lifetime of work. While the book is useful in general, it's filled with information about the author's work and business, it has a strong focus on age-related issues and severe mental issues. So if that does not apply to you, be prepared to read through it or maybe just skip those parts. The message of the book boils down to this: - the brain has the ability to change its shape and connections, thus gaining new skills and engraving behaviours - however, if this ability is not exercised, with age it leads to certain problems - on the bright side, you can, at any age, grow your brain to work at its peak performance level - unless you are a child, the brain's plasticity is turned on only when you are focused, you are (or expect to be) rewarded or punished, when you obtain a strong outcome, or when you are surprised by something new or unexpected - if something becomes easy or routine, your brain no longer improves, but you are able to get to a higher level - using technology as aid is dangerous if we use it to just remove the challenge, rather than put effort to practice and get better - most common brain illnesses are not "diseases", but dysfunctional states reached through perfectly natural processes, that we can prevent or reverse through similar, but better guided processes - you can deal with pain by focusing on pleasurable, non-pain settings or scenarios And as a conclusion: constantly engage your brain to focus to its surroundings, do challenging but fun tasks or exercises, developing new skills or improving them, but always make it a point to challenge yourself. Use BrainHQ (like I said, the book is also an ad for the author's business) for such exercises.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    This book has some interesting and inspiring stories from a pioneer researcher in neuroplasticity, but is geared mainly toward older people wanting to prevent or reverse cognitive decline as they age or recover from stroke or head trauma. One really useful piece of advice in the book is to work at developing new skills which you find interesting and emotionally engaging that you can improve on incrementally with effort. This operates on the same principle as workouts for muscle groups - vary you This book has some interesting and inspiring stories from a pioneer researcher in neuroplasticity, but is geared mainly toward older people wanting to prevent or reverse cognitive decline as they age or recover from stroke or head trauma. One really useful piece of advice in the book is to work at developing new skills which you find interesting and emotionally engaging that you can improve on incrementally with effort. This operates on the same principle as workouts for muscle groups - vary your routine so your body doesn't get used to it. The last chapter gives a lot of good, practical advice and chronicles in detail what the author (then 71) does to keep his brain fit, but the actual brain exercises are only available on his website. The author downplays the importance of a low-fat plant-based diet to stave off arterial schlerosis of the brain and DHA to prevent brain shrinkage and doesn't emphasize the importance of enduring regular, deep, high-quality sleep, though he does tout the importance of aerobic exercise. Ironically, I read this hoping for a more practical "how to" before beginning The Brain that Changes Itself, which I find much more interesting and wide-ranging in its topics with practical advice sprinkled throughout.

  22. 5 out of 5

    RealDeadpool,The

    A hopeful perspective for our old days lies within these pages The author is engaging and has greatly succeeded to leave me enough appetite to want more. I believe this is the idea behind this strategy. It's a double-edged sword for me though, so one star comes off for this reason. Especially considering it's an overstatement to say BrainHQ (or other scientifically backed brain training programs for that matter) are cost effective. It's an extra expense nonetheless. Love the personnal accounts, e A hopeful perspective for our old days lies within these pages The author is engaging and has greatly succeeded to leave me enough appetite to want more. I believe this is the idea behind this strategy. It's a double-edged sword for me though, so one star comes off for this reason. Especially considering it's an overstatement to say BrainHQ (or other scientifically backed brain training programs for that matter) are cost effective. It's an extra expense nonetheless. Love the personnal accounts, even the ones from the author. I appreciate the honest and clever audacity to go through a whole 200 plus page book, with very little scientific terminology or reference. I will add for the author's defense, that further references gallore are offered on his website. A technique that is not for me though. So minus one more star. A truly fun read all in all. I almost feel bad for giving it this review. I do feel I am being equally fair as te author to his readers with this review though. Thanks for the insights Mike.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Camilla

    This has been a fascinating and eye-opening read. It gives the reader direct knowledge and encouragement for how to take charge of one's health in all aspects; emotional, physical, and mental. And it all starts with the brain. I admit the scientific terms got a bit heavy after some time, but I found it rather fun looking up the different terms and digging into the background and science of the different parts of the brain. I would recommend this for anyone who likes nonfictional science books an This has been a fascinating and eye-opening read. It gives the reader direct knowledge and encouragement for how to take charge of one's health in all aspects; emotional, physical, and mental. And it all starts with the brain. I admit the scientific terms got a bit heavy after some time, but I found it rather fun looking up the different terms and digging into the background and science of the different parts of the brain. I would recommend this for anyone who likes nonfictional science books and anyone who is over 50.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Petrapower

    I do agree with those who complain about the author's blatant self promotion. But the book is written in a way that is engaging and interesting and definitely gives you a lot of information about how your brain works. It is not always easy to follow, the terminology and the text structure caused me problems, but all in all it was pretty enlightening which is exactly what I wanted and needed from this book. Five stars, loved it, will read again, and will recommend to everyone. I do agree with those who complain about the author's blatant self promotion. But the book is written in a way that is engaging and interesting and definitely gives you a lot of information about how your brain works. It is not always easy to follow, the terminology and the text structure caused me problems, but all in all it was pretty enlightening which is exactly what I wanted and needed from this book. Five stars, loved it, will read again, and will recommend to everyone.

  25. 4 out of 5

    John Handforth

    Interesting. This is not a self help book per se. It extrapolates on scientific fact about the plasticity of the brain, its ability to adapt and grow. Also toward the end it provides techniques to help you keep your brain from atrophying as you get older.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    Excellent! This is the best book I have read about the neuroscience of aging and the related potential positive and negative impacts of brain plasticity.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joel

    You need to read this if you are past your prime and want to help control the otherwise guaranteed mental decline.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Bridgeman

    Kind of life-changing.

  29. 4 out of 5

    David Rennard

    Great introduction and call to action for the concept of brain plasticity; written by the lead scientist on much of the related research, but too wordy and repetitive for 5 stars.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amrishshah

    Brilliant, a must read for anybody who has a brain over his / her shoulders... Survival of the brainiest...

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