Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain

Since this blog is about using neural nets and AI, its only appropriate that I post about an awesome audio book I'm currently listening too. I like supplement my voracious appetite for books with audio books on occasion and have more space devoted to audio books on my 4 gig nano than I do with music.

The current book I'm listening too, "Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain" by Sharon Begely is utterly fascinating. It's not a how to book, rather its about current discoveries in field of neuroscience and discussions with the Dalai Lama about it. The main premise of the book is about one thing, neuroplasticity and how current research is showing that the mind and brain are dualistic and dynamic entities. It’s wonderfully narrated and tries to merge Western science and Eastern Philosophies together.

Here are some things I learned so far:

  • Physical exercise creates physiological changes in the brain structure that can help fight depression
  • The mind can alter brain chemistry just as brain chemistry can alter your mind
  • People with depression, who took a combination of drug and cognitive therapy (meditation) had only a 33% chance of relapse versus the 67% chance of relapse in people treated only with drugs
  • You can learn anything with focused attention and approaching it voluntarily. If you’re forced to learn something you dislike, your brain will discard it in the future.
  • Brains are dynamic and can remap (rewire) themselves
  • The hippocampus is storehouse of brain stem cells
  • The brain can strengthen circuits by adding new neurons from hippocampus
  • The brain periodically prunes unused connections and remaps itself based on demand
  • Stroke victims can regain use of limbs and speech (not fully) with cognitive therapy and training the mind to remap itself to adjacent neurons to the damaged area
  • The mind can enhance or suppress the magnitude of gene activity
  • Experience shapes the brain which in turn shapes your mind
  • The mind can shape your brain which then affects your experiences
  • You become what you think you are

I think the last item, "you become what you think you are" is really important. If you think you are a loser, then you will become one. If you think your a winner and able to learn Mandarin Chinese in a year, then you will do it.

I highly recommend this audio book!

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