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Think Smart: A Neuroscientist's Prescription for Improving Your Brain's Performance

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A leading neuroscientist and New York Times-bestselling author of Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot distills the research on the brain and serves up practical, surprising, and illuminating recommendations for warding off neurological decline, cognitive function, and encouraging smarter thinking day to day. In Think Smart, the renowned neuropsychiatrist and bestselling a A leading neuroscientist and New York Times-bestselling author of Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot distills the research on the brain and serves up practical, surprising, and illuminating recommendations for warding off neurological decline, cognitive function, and encouraging smarter thinking day to day. In Think Smart, the renowned neuropsychiatrist and bestselling author Dr. Richard Restak details how each of us can improve and tone our body's most powerful organ: the brain. As a renowned expert on the brain, Restak knows that in the last five years there have been exciting new scientific discoveries about the brain and its performance. So he's asked his colleagues-many of them the world's leading brain scientists and researchers-one important question: What can I do to help my brain work more efficiently? Their surprising-and remarkably feasible-answers are at the heart of Think Smart. Restak combines advice culled from cutting-edge research with brain-tuning exercises to show how individuals of any age can make their brain work more effectively. In the same accessible prose that made Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot a New York Times bestseller, Restak presents a wide array of practical recommendations about a variety of topics, including the crucial role sleep plays in boosting creativity, the importance of honing sensory memory, and the neuron- firing benefits of certain foods. In Think Smart, the "wise, witty, and ethical Restak" (says the Smithsonian Institution) offers readers helpful suggestions for fighting neurological decline that will put every reader on the path to building a healthier, more limber brain.


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A leading neuroscientist and New York Times-bestselling author of Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot distills the research on the brain and serves up practical, surprising, and illuminating recommendations for warding off neurological decline, cognitive function, and encouraging smarter thinking day to day. In Think Smart, the renowned neuropsychiatrist and bestselling a A leading neuroscientist and New York Times-bestselling author of Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot distills the research on the brain and serves up practical, surprising, and illuminating recommendations for warding off neurological decline, cognitive function, and encouraging smarter thinking day to day. In Think Smart, the renowned neuropsychiatrist and bestselling author Dr. Richard Restak details how each of us can improve and tone our body's most powerful organ: the brain. As a renowned expert on the brain, Restak knows that in the last five years there have been exciting new scientific discoveries about the brain and its performance. So he's asked his colleagues-many of them the world's leading brain scientists and researchers-one important question: What can I do to help my brain work more efficiently? Their surprising-and remarkably feasible-answers are at the heart of Think Smart. Restak combines advice culled from cutting-edge research with brain-tuning exercises to show how individuals of any age can make their brain work more effectively. In the same accessible prose that made Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot a New York Times bestseller, Restak presents a wide array of practical recommendations about a variety of topics, including the crucial role sleep plays in boosting creativity, the importance of honing sensory memory, and the neuron- firing benefits of certain foods. In Think Smart, the "wise, witty, and ethical Restak" (says the Smithsonian Institution) offers readers helpful suggestions for fighting neurological decline that will put every reader on the path to building a healthier, more limber brain.

30 review for Think Smart: A Neuroscientist's Prescription for Improving Your Brain's Performance

  1. 5 out of 5

    Simon Cleveland, PhD

    My previous exposure to Dr. Restak's work was `Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot,' which to my recollection I wasn't very keen on and for those of you interested in reading that review I'd advise to scroll through my profile and find it. The current book `Think Smart' is a little different and hence carries a different weight for me. Think Smart in a good introductory work for every fan of human brain functioning, maintenance and upkeep. The complexity of Dr. Restak's vernacular is minimal an My previous exposure to Dr. Restak's work was `Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot,' which to my recollection I wasn't very keen on and for those of you interested in reading that review I'd advise to scroll through my profile and find it. The current book `Think Smart' is a little different and hence carries a different weight for me. Think Smart in a good introductory work for every fan of human brain functioning, maintenance and upkeep. The complexity of Dr. Restak's vernacular is minimal and so it is expected that any high school grad will comprehend the overall message, which is: You need to put as much effort into maintaining a healthy brain as you put into feeding, clothing, and bathing yourself. I can't put it any simpler than this because I run the risk of loosing 60% of the general population. For the overachievers I have two words with respect to this book: Skip it. Why? I have had the opportunity to read a few very enticing works on the subject of brain function and physiology and would strongly recommend these instead. I guarantee you will find a lot more in them in terms of brain areas and how specific supplements may influence them, personal victories with brain related illnesses and brain exercises than `Think Smart.' Recommended readings: Making a Good Brain Great by Daniel G. Amen The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge

  2. 4 out of 5

    Austin Boosinger

    Learn new words, take daily naps, exercise well, eat well, and of course, play video games. "The effects induced by regular video-gaming can be compared to what occurs in the brain of a concert pianist." Learn new words, take daily naps, exercise well, eat well, and of course, play video games. "The effects induced by regular video-gaming can be compared to what occurs in the brain of a concert pianist."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Leonardo Duenas-Osorio

    This is a very accessible book, written by an authoritative figure in the fields of neuroscience and neuropsychiatry. The book is well balanced in terms of presenting not just ideas and exercises to improve brain performance, but also presenting the latest scientific evidence to support, although in many cases only partially support, their effectiveness. The author provides day-to-day context to effectively illustrate his points to general readers. He touches on diet, physical exercise, and ment This is a very accessible book, written by an authoritative figure in the fields of neuroscience and neuropsychiatry. The book is well balanced in terms of presenting not just ideas and exercises to improve brain performance, but also presenting the latest scientific evidence to support, although in many cases only partially support, their effectiveness. The author provides day-to-day context to effectively illustrate his points to general readers. He touches on diet, physical exercise, and mental stimulation as the cornerstones to prepare and nurture the brain for current challenges and future events, including the ways to reduce inevitable deterioration that comes with age. Many of the hints and recommendations may seem familiar to the reader, but the author enhances their relevance in the context of optimal brain function and intelligence. He creates a desire on the reader to find more information, perhaps more detailed, on the presented topics. I personally liked the book very much, took notes, and organized the ideas and suggestions that seemed pertinent to me and my family’s lifestyle. I synthesized some of the strategies for optimal brain function and mentioned them to my wife, who readily liked activities such as Mediterranean diets, aerobic exercises, and mental drills. These exercises help with expertise development, problem solving, attention, memory, dexterity, and the continued commitment to a selected "obsession". We agreed to maintain and promote a challenging cognitive environment at home, with family and friends, and extend to our respective work places; always with a deliberate effortful commitment to improve performance and gain knowledge.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Taka

    A Mishmash of Information-- The book should be titled, Think Smart: Myriad Ways of Improving Your Brain Power Drawn From Various Sources since the author draws from NOT HIS OWN RESEARCH OR EXPERIENCE but from a wide range of sources like K. Anders Ericsson et al. In other words, the author might as well have been a priest or journalist, and him being a neuroscientist has little to do with the content. The book is a veritable compendium of techniques and facts to boost brain performance and it may A Mishmash of Information-- The book should be titled, Think Smart: Myriad Ways of Improving Your Brain Power Drawn From Various Sources since the author draws from NOT HIS OWN RESEARCH OR EXPERIENCE but from a wide range of sources like K. Anders Ericsson et al. In other words, the author might as well have been a priest or journalist, and him being a neuroscientist has little to do with the content. The book is a veritable compendium of techniques and facts to boost brain performance and it may be a good place to start. I even admit that some of the information in this book is very useful. It really is hard to say what's wrong with this book as it's pretty informative, but my guess is that it covers so much ground that every bit of information seems dilated and lacking in depth and focus. It covers nutrition, sleep, exercise, an exhaustive list of activities to boost memory and other cognitive powers, aging, Alzhimer's, etc. You're inundated with so much information in so wide a range that it leaves you reeling and gasping for breath. While it is true that this book may give you more bang for the buck, but I recommend reading other books that cover each of the topic in more detail and depth and written by EXPERTS IN THE FIELD, or THOSE WHO RESEARCHED THE TOPIC THOROUGHLY, e.g. John Medina's Brain Rules and Geoff Colvin's Talent is Overrated. One piece of advice: DO NOT GET THE AUDIOBOOK. You need it to be in book form to come back to for reference later on. Overall, good information but lacks in authority and depth. Meh.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tracy King

    For someone who loves learning about our human brain: how it works, neuropsychology, how to alter our brain so it works better for our sake, etc.; I found this book an interesting read. I took my time reading and re-reading taking notes. I found it quite interesting and a great in-depth read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ngozi Omatu

    It would be a good book to add to anyone's library. It would be a good book to add to anyone's library.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Loy Machedo

    Books on the Brain & Human Potential like those from Charles Duhigg (The Power of Habit), Daneil Coyle (The Talent Code), Matthew Syed (Bounce), Daniel Pink (Drive) have always fascinated me. Simply because I am obsessed about anything that can help me become better. And when a book is authored by a Neuroscientist on subjects related to Mind, Body and Brain - well it becomes as irresistible as Thailand's Massaman curry dish. The book covers various modalities which impact or influence the Brain li Books on the Brain & Human Potential like those from Charles Duhigg (The Power of Habit), Daneil Coyle (The Talent Code), Matthew Syed (Bounce), Daniel Pink (Drive) have always fascinated me. Simply because I am obsessed about anything that can help me become better. And when a book is authored by a Neuroscientist on subjects related to Mind, Body and Brain - well it becomes as irresistible as Thailand's Massaman curry dish. The book covers various modalities which impact or influence the Brain like Diet Control, Using Supplements, Body Weight, Nutrition, Exercise & Oxygen and Importance of Sleep. And throughout the book he probes into various techniques which help improve various regions of the brain - Playing Video Games, Taking Power Naps, Memory Techniques, Visualization and also covers a chapter dedicated to how to reduce stress. Some of the interesting & surprising discoveries I found through this book were: 1) Why Multi-Tasking is Bad 2) Drinking Red Wine is Good (moderately) 3) Improving your Vocabulary helps become smarter 4) The various kinds of intelligences 5) Why solving puzzles is actually good for the mind So moment of truth There were quite a lot of useful exercises and pieces of information which I found useful to me at least. My favorite one among the lot was to enhance ones vocabulary in order to develop ones mind (and not the other way around). The only part I am not too fond off it the Memory Technique Chapter. Reminded me more of Harry Lorayne's Cheesy Techniques. But it's an easy to read, easy to understand and easy to follow book. Overall Rating: 8 out of 10. Loy Machedo loy machedo dot com | whoisloymachedo dot com

  8. 5 out of 5

    E

    Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines the brain as “the portion of the vertebrate central nervous system enclosed in the skull and continuous with the spinal cord through the foramen magnum that is composed of neurons and supporting and nutritive structures (as glia) and that integrates sensory information from inside and outside the body in controlling autonomic function (as heartbeat and respiration), in coordinating and directing correlated motor responses, and in the process of lea Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines the brain as “the portion of the vertebrate central nervous system enclosed in the skull and continuous with the spinal cord through the foramen magnum that is composed of neurons and supporting and nutritive structures (as glia) and that integrates sensory information from inside and outside the body in controlling autonomic function (as heartbeat and respiration), in coordinating and directing correlated motor responses, and in the process of learning.” Phew! Luckily, neurology professor Richard Restak is here to synthesize contemporary research about the brain into applicable, accessible information. He doles out pertinent advice about how to look after your brain, including what to eat, how much to eat and what not to eat. He also explains how sleeping can maximize your creativity and brain health. Restak manages to make many of these suggestions for healthy living sound intriguing, even fun. getAbstract recommends this light scientific guide to readers who want to enhance their creativity and improve their brain’s performance. Read more about this book in the online summary: http://www.getabstract.com/zusammenfa...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    Neuro-plasticity and Neoteny are two areas that have always held my attention in the Neurosciences. Though 'Thinking Smart' didn't give my info-insatiate mind ample fodder re Neoteny, it provided a sufficiently robust argument re the brains' plasticity and the need to attend to brain health just like any other component of the physical being. Of special interest to me is the fact that like all other physical constituents of our being, Lamarck's theory of use and disuse also affects the brain à la Neuro-plasticity and Neoteny are two areas that have always held my attention in the Neurosciences. Though 'Thinking Smart' didn't give my info-insatiate mind ample fodder re Neoteny, it provided a sufficiently robust argument re the brains' plasticity and the need to attend to brain health just like any other component of the physical being. Of special interest to me is the fact that like all other physical constituents of our being, Lamarck's theory of use and disuse also affects the brain à la 'neural Darwinism' and that consistent brain exercises could reverse the trend towards atrophy, keeping it fit and working well even into dotage. One of such exercises is Dr. Restak's forward/backward number span and how they improve working memory and I've had wrenching gut feeling ever since reading this: could this explain my observation that students with good backgrounds in Arabic perform exceptionally well in conventional English-taught schools based on the fact that the two languages are read in laterally opposite direction? Could this also (to some extent that is) contribute to the observed brilliance of Jewish Students/Academics in the conventional school system?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    I listened to this on CD while we were traveling. It was quite interesting. The beginning talks about the best things to do for your brain's health: eat well and exercise (why is it always the same thing?!) :) He also tells of interesting ideas for ways to increase your mental capacity. It inspired me to work on my memory and concentration skills. I have set a goal to memorize six piano songs over the next year and continue learning new words, writing, and memorizing lists. I was particularly fas I listened to this on CD while we were traveling. It was quite interesting. The beginning talks about the best things to do for your brain's health: eat well and exercise (why is it always the same thing?!) :) He also tells of interesting ideas for ways to increase your mental capacity. It inspired me to work on my memory and concentration skills. I have set a goal to memorize six piano songs over the next year and continue learning new words, writing, and memorizing lists. I was particularly fascinated with his information on Alzheimer's. When people's brains were examined, after death, they discovered that there were grey areas of the brain - as if those areas of the brain were worn out. The interesting thing is they appeared in people's brains who exhibited symptoms of Alzheimer's as well as those who didn't. The difference seemed to be those who worked on brain active brain skills rather than falling into passivity in old age, as well as if they had spent their younger years learning and staying mentally engaged. Fascinating.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tim K

    Clearly well researched, Think Smart reveals the true nature of ourselves, and through emerging neuroscience research, gives us clues on what to do. In order to think smart, that is. It points out many things you will probably never think of, and these points are surprisingly interesting. After reading this for a couple hours, I was getting a "super smart brain high" feeling and making connections all over the place, just because of how the book made me think in certain ways. Delusional, you migh Clearly well researched, Think Smart reveals the true nature of ourselves, and through emerging neuroscience research, gives us clues on what to do. In order to think smart, that is. It points out many things you will probably never think of, and these points are surprisingly interesting. After reading this for a couple hours, I was getting a "super smart brain high" feeling and making connections all over the place, just because of how the book made me think in certain ways. Delusional, you might say, as it's a book about thinking in the first place, but I've taken psychology classes, and I've found uniqueness in these "super brain highs", and it was quite worth it. It was all around well structured, and came from an author of many neuroscience books. In other words, he knew what he was talking about.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stacy Jensen

    Very interesting book on what makes our brain work and ways that we can improve brain function. Since my children have depleted me of many brain cells, I'm very motivated to preserve what little I have left. An interesting side note, Dr. Restak's advice on taking care of our brains reads like a mini word of wisdom. I think my very favorite new fact was that teenage brains are still so undeveloped that the frontal lobes are immature, resulting in lack of concentration, focus, motivation and poor Very interesting book on what makes our brain work and ways that we can improve brain function. Since my children have depleted me of many brain cells, I'm very motivated to preserve what little I have left. An interesting side note, Dr. Restak's advice on taking care of our brains reads like a mini word of wisdom. I think my very favorite new fact was that teenage brains are still so undeveloped that the frontal lobes are immature, resulting in lack of concentration, focus, motivation and poor consistent efforts instead of willfulness or laziness. Max will be pleased to hear he may have somewhat of a reprieve from future lectures. (Somewhat)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    This is a good book. I found my psychology teacher had already covered many of the topics he discussed as memory is her area of interest. The book contains many helpful tips for those sixty and over. I found the run down at the end of the book to be especially helpful. I like the way he stuck to the facts and wasn't distracted by fluff or hype. He addressed moods as well. It would be a good book to add to my reference library. This is a good book. I found my psychology teacher had already covered many of the topics he discussed as memory is her area of interest. The book contains many helpful tips for those sixty and over. I found the run down at the end of the book to be especially helpful. I like the way he stuck to the facts and wasn't distracted by fluff or hype. He addressed moods as well. It would be a good book to add to my reference library.

  14. 5 out of 5

    D Books

    This book was a very good read! Things that I found particularly useful were the types of foods, vitamins, and drinks that the book was suggesting to help improve/maintain brain function as we get older and it had plenty of suggestions. It also had some brain games/exercises that people can try to improve memory and functioning. Getting enough sleep, of course, is also important. Overall this was a good book!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    I enjoy reading books like this because I am always trying to find ways of making my brain work better. Because I read so many of these books, I am familiar with parts of the information already. However, every book has something new to offer. I liked the practical advice put together with scientific theory that Restak included in the book. He is good at explaining complex ideas in a way that non-scientists can understand.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Conner

    This is a great overall 'what can I do to improve my brain function' book of strategies, devices and games. It is written so I can understand it. In addition to emphasizing good nutrition, sleep and exercise, I especially liked the self improvement part. I think I can even apply some of the ideas to the classroom. It never fails to amaze me that people that have natural memory abilitiy use mnemonic strategies. I usually have to remember to use them, as they don't come naturally to me. This is a great overall 'what can I do to improve my brain function' book of strategies, devices and games. It is written so I can understand it. In addition to emphasizing good nutrition, sleep and exercise, I especially liked the self improvement part. I think I can even apply some of the ideas to the classroom. It never fails to amaze me that people that have natural memory abilitiy use mnemonic strategies. I usually have to remember to use them, as they don't come naturally to me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Badr

    I must thank Mr. Restak for his devotion for writing this book. This book is advantageous for it contains many useful and beneficial ingredients that would enhances our mind and body if implemented persistently. I believe this book was published in 2009; I happened to come across it in the midst of 2014, and there more studies that have been done on the area of the brain enhancement between 2009 and the present time, therefore, I will have to update my knowledge.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Quinn

    Good read about how to keep your brain healthy. It's a lot of common sence kind of stuff like eat healthy, exercise your brain, chalange yourself with different oppotunities. The guy talks a lot about the Wii and first person adventure games as a way to keep your brain healthy and develop hand eye coordination. Good read about how to keep your brain healthy. It's a lot of common sence kind of stuff like eat healthy, exercise your brain, chalange yourself with different oppotunities. The guy talks a lot about the Wii and first person adventure games as a way to keep your brain healthy and develop hand eye coordination.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Milne

    This is probably the most accessible of the "brain books" I have read, and for that I rank it pretty high. This is not the book or you if you have already done some reading and want to go in depth, but this is a great book for someone who just wants to learn a little about how to improve the way they think and function. It is extremely well written. This is probably the most accessible of the "brain books" I have read, and for that I rank it pretty high. This is not the book or you if you have already done some reading and want to go in depth, but this is a great book for someone who just wants to learn a little about how to improve the way they think and function. It is extremely well written.

  20. 5 out of 5

    David

    This book is interesting, but I didn't find it to be very helpful--nothing really new. I give it three stars because the book describes a variety of exercises for the mind that may be useful to some people. I spend my days exercising my mind in a number of ways, so how can these additional exercises be helpful? This book is interesting, but I didn't find it to be very helpful--nothing really new. I give it three stars because the book describes a variety of exercises for the mind that may be useful to some people. I spend my days exercising my mind in a number of ways, so how can these additional exercises be helpful?

  21. 4 out of 5

    G.H. Monroe

    I think that there was some valuable information in this book. So much so that I checked it out of the library in order to listen again so I can take more notes from it. I saw my father lose his memory and his sharpness. That broke my heart. I want to do everything in my power to prevent that from happening to me.

  22. 4 out of 5

    James

    This was a quick and easy read with tons of useful information and suggestions on how to improve cognitive function by things such as changing your diet to a Mediterranean diet full of fruits, veggies, fish, walnuts,caffeine,etc., exercising, and getting (REM) sleep. Also has good tips on improving short and long term memory by doing a variety of brain exercises mentioned.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    My largest qualm with this book is the large amount of speculation in the author's hypothesis. If you are going to make such bold claims, let's see the data in the text. But maybe the book isn't written for the data nerds. If that's your argument, stop it right now. No one reads a book that has the word Neuroscientist on it if they didn't want to see some data. My largest qualm with this book is the large amount of speculation in the author's hypothesis. If you are going to make such bold claims, let's see the data in the text. But maybe the book isn't written for the data nerds. If that's your argument, stop it right now. No one reads a book that has the word Neuroscientist on it if they didn't want to see some data.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Timothy

    I love this book so much to talk about when at a dinner or just in a car, I read it on a plane and enjoyed the whole thing. had a glass scotch and even a cigar to make this book work wonders for me. psychology learning thought ideas it will be stuck in my head for years, pick up habits with these type of books in mind

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    Well written and practical, this book offers specific strategies for improving mental function (for all ages, not just seniors) and explains why they work based on current neurological research. Most of the suggestions come from experts in the field.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cin

    Very interesting. Don't think the organization of the book is how I would like it. Hard to go back and find information. I find the topic very fascinating. Not an easy read, however--takes quite a bit of concentration. Very interesting. Don't think the organization of the book is how I would like it. Hard to go back and find information. I find the topic very fascinating. Not an easy read, however--takes quite a bit of concentration.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gens Linton

    Amazing how the research of this book and Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food" both are very consistent in terms of diet and how it effects your overall physical health but also your brain and longevity and usefulness of it. Amazing how the research of this book and Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food" both are very consistent in terms of diet and how it effects your overall physical health but also your brain and longevity and usefulness of it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    Some good stuff here, some of it surprising (action video games are good for your brain), some of it predictable (a heart healthy diet is a brain healthy diet, Mediterranean diet). Well written but a little plodding at times.

  29. 5 out of 5

    George Aivaliotis

    Science, minus the sleep. Well according to him sleep is a key component of intelligence. So is diet and dancing. Memorizing words. Rhetoric in learning. He has a big bag of well-researched tricks to enhance the brain's abilities. He's funny, too. My brain feels a little less fuzzy. Science, minus the sleep. Well according to him sleep is a key component of intelligence. So is diet and dancing. Memorizing words. Rhetoric in learning. He has a big bag of well-researched tricks to enhance the brain's abilities. He's funny, too. My brain feels a little less fuzzy.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    Very interesting distillation of emerging brain science. Uses a combination of field-specific jargon and metaphors easily understood by laypeople to explore ways in which science can be used to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the brain.

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