Sunday, October 9, 2011

Book Reviews: the brain and memory

I've been "reading" quite a few books (that is, listening to audio books), so it's probably time for me to knock out reviews of some of them. I've got three here that I read recently that all address similar issues.

Change Your Brain, Change Your Body by Daniel G. Amen

There's a vague patina of salesmanship clinging to this book, but overall it seems like very good information about the brain and its connection to the body's health. Amen is a neuroscientist who has, evidently, helped a lot of people to lose weight (or gain weight), feel better, be healthier, and function at a higher level. He discusses habits to develop as well as foods, supplements, and drugs. An important aspect of the book is understanding one's brain type, its needs, and the remediation for that type. There's also fascinating information about how we function. At times it can be a bit repetitive and seems to make fascinating stuff a bit dull, but overall it was quite interesting.

Brain Rules by John Medina

There was a lot of overlapping information with Amen's book, but Medina has the voice of a star lecturer (really--he was the one reading his audio-book, and he's a professor who, I'll bet, is a favorite at his university). Like Amen's book, this is heavily research-based--there are a lot of ideas in here not only for personal development but also ideas for ways to change institutions such as schools and businesses. Fascinating stuff, expertly presented with humor and grace.

The Memory Doctor by Douglas Mason

This book was a short primer on improving one's memory--not in a "preparing for a national or world memory competition" way but in a daily-life functional way. Some of the material went along with Medina's and Amen's research, though occasionally Mason's work seemed to references outdated work. Even so, the tricks and tips were practical and, presumably, effective even when some of the theory was off. It was short and to the point, good at what it did.

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