Apr 3, 2007
By: Alvaro Fernandez
Neuroplasticity: the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new connections throughout life. (see more concepts in our Glossary).
We coudn’t be happier about the growing number of books popularizing the key lessons about brain training that Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg has been researching and writing about for years, and that motivated us to embark ourselves in the SharpBrains adventure.
Discover Magazine presents a great article, Rewiring the Brain, reviewing two recent books.
- The subtitle is “Neuroplasticity can allow for treatment of senility, post-traumatic stress, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression and Buddhists have been capitalizing on it for millenia.” I would add that the strong value of lifelong learning present in jesuit and jewish traditions reflects the same wisdom. Some quotes:
- “Two new books, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain (Ballantine Books, $24.95) by science journalist Sharon Begley and The Brain That Changes Itself (Viking, $24.95) by psychiatrist Norman Doidge, offer masterfully guided tours through the burgeoning field of neuroplasticity research. Each has its own style and emphasis; both are excellent.”
- “Finally, both authors conclude that adult neuroplasticity is a vastly undertapped resource, one with which Western medicine and psychology are just now coming to grips. An important emerging research agenda is to figure out ways to direct and maximize this brain repair and reorganization.”
- “Brain scans reveal that the neural activity of highly trained monks is off the charts, relative to meditation novices, in circuits that involve maternal love (caudate), empathy (right insula), and feelings of joy and happiness (left prefrontal cortex). Even when these monks are not meditating, their brains bear the imprints of their psychic workouts. The latter two structures, for instance, are anatomically enlarged. Based on results like these, Begley holds out hope that our emotional lives and personalities, far from being carved in stone by our genes and early experiences, will prove as sculptable through mental training as our bodies are through physical training.”
It these concepts and research don’t kickstart a reinvention of what we understand for “education” and “health”, I don’t know what will. “Physical training”, in fact, includes training our brains!.
Another great book a colleague just recommended (thanks Kate!):
Carved in Sand: When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in Midlife, a first-person story by Cathryn Jakobson Ramin, a journalist and aging baby boomer (who isn’t “aging”, by the way) on how she improved her confidence, concentration and memory, combined with good scientific background.
For more context on this new understanding of the brain, check Marian Diamond and the Brain Revolution.