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Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselvesby Sharon Begley
Synopses & Reviews
Is it really possible to change the structure and function of the brain, and in so doing alter how we think and feel? The answer is a resounding yes. In late 2004, leading Western scientists joined the Dalai Lamaat his home in Dharamsala, India, to address this very question-and in the process brought about a revolution in our understanding of the human mind. In this fascinating and far-reaching book, Wall Street Journalscience writer Sharon Begley reports on how cutting-edge science and the ancient wisdom of Buddhism have come together to show how we all have the power to literally change our brains by changing our minds. These findingshold exciting implications for personal transformation.
For decades, the conventional wisdom of neuroscience held that the hardware of the brain is fixed and immutable-that we are stuck withwhat we were born with. As Begley shows, however, recent pioneering experiments in neuroplasticity, a new science that investigates whether and how the brain can undergo wholesale change, reveal that the brain is capablenot only of altering its structure but also of generating new neurons, even into old age. The brain can adapt, heal, renew itself after trauma, and compensate for disability.
Begley documents how thisfundamental paradigm shift is transforming both our understanding of the human mind and our approach to deep-seated emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems. These breakthroughs show that it is possible to reset ourhappiness meter, regain the use of limbs disabled by stroke, train the mind to break cycles of depression and OCD, and reverse age-related changes in the brain. They also suggest that it is possible to teach and learncompassion, a key step in the Dalai Lama's quest for a more peaceful world. But as we learn from studies performed on Buddhist monks, an important component in changing the brain is to tap the power of mind and, in particular, focused attention. This is the classic Buddhist practice of mindfulness, a technique that has become popular in the West and that is immediately available to everyone.
With herextraordinary gift for making science accessible, meaningful, and compelling, Sharon Begley illuminates a profound shift in our understanding of how the brain and the mind interact. This tremendously hopeful book takes usto the leading edge of a revolution in what it means to be human.
From the Hardcover edition.
In this fascinating and far-reaching book, Newsweek science writer Sharon Begley reports on how cutting-edge science and the ancient wisdom of Buddhism have come together to reveal that, contrary to popular belief, we have the power to literally change our brains by changing our minds. Recent pioneering experiments in neuroplasticity–the ability of the brain to change in response to experience–reveal that the brain is capable of altering its structure and function, and even of generating new neurons, a power we retain well into old age. The brain can adapt, heal, renew itself after trauma, compensate for disabilities, rewire itself to overcome dyslexia, and break cycles of depression and OCD. And as scientists are learning from studies performed on Buddhist monks, it is not only the outside world that can change the brain, so can the mind and, in particular, focused attention through the classic Buddhist practice of mindfulness.
With her gift for making science accessible, meaningful, and compelling, Sharon Begley illuminates a profound shift in our understanding of how the brain and the mind interact and takes us to the leading edge of a revolution in what it means to be human.
“There are two great things about this book. One is that it shows us how nothing about our brains is set in stone. The other is that it is written by Sharon Begley, one of the best science writers around. Begley is superb at framing the latest facts within the larger context of the field. . . . This is a terrific book.”
–Robert M. Sapolsky, author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers
“Excellent . . . elegant and lucid prose . . . an open mind here will be rewarded.”
“A strong dose of hope along with a strong does of science and Buddhist thought.”
–The San Diego Union-Tribune
A study of the new science of neuroplasticity examines the implications of changing one's brain throughout various stages of life and explains how the brain can be physically altered to regain the use of limbs disabled by a stroke, recover from depression, reverse age-related changes in the brain, acquire new skills even in old age, and more. Reprint. 50,000 first printing.
About the Author
Sharon Begley, science columnist for The Wall Street Journal, inaugurated the paper’s “Science Journal” in 2002. She was previously the senior science writer at Newsweek, covering neuroscience, genetics, physics, astronomy, and anthropology. The co-author of The Mind and the Brain, she has won many awards for her articles She is a frequent guest on radio and television, including The Charlie Rose Show, Today Weekend, CBS’s The Early Show, and Imus in the Morning. She lives in New Jersey.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
Can we change? Challenging the dogma of the hardwired brain — Th enchanted loom; The discovery of neuroplasticity — New neurons for old brains; Neurogenesis — A child shall lead them; The neuroplasticity of young brains — Footprints on the brain; Sensory experience reshapes adult brains — Mind over matter; Mental activity changes the brain — Nature through nurture; Turning on genes in the brain — Blaming Mom? Rewired for compassion — Transforming the emotional mind; Challenging the happiness "Set point" — Now what?
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