Thursday, February 28, 2013

Shelf Life [adult]

Make Your Brain Smarter By Sandra Bond Chapman, Ph.D
@SPL: 153 Cha

We all know the phrase “use it or lose it”. Most times, relates to physical conditioning or skills, but rarely does one think of it in terms of mental conditioning. However, working out the little grey cells of the brain is just as important for overall health – perhaps even more so. Atrophying muscles is one thing, but atrophying the brain that moves them is arguably worse. As the popularity of websites like Lumosity shows, people are becoming more and more concerned with keeping their brains active and engaged in order to increase creativity, focus, to assist with attention deficit disorders and to stave off age-related neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease.  Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, a renowned neurologist, now gives us another tool for brain fitness, in her book Make Your Brain Smarter. Slightly insulting title aside, this is a very readable, non-medical-jargoned self-help book about the brain and its functions.  Specifically, it is about the executive functions of the frontal lobe, and how these functions and our neuroplasticity can be improved at any age (and not just with crosswords and Sudoku, either).  Indeed, the good doctor provides chapters and exercises geared specifically for different age ranges (although they are all fascinating) and for “rewiring” the brain after injury or neurological incidents like a stroke.  Each chapter is dotted with tips and factoids, with sections on strategy, reasoning, creativity and exercises to strengthen each; and while it may be tempting to go straight to the section in which you want to improve, the first part of the book involves giving yourself the “neck-up-check-up” first, just to see where your strengths already are (you may be surprised at the outcome).  In case you are worried that the doc is all bunk, check out the full list of research notes in the back, and the websites both for the book and the Centre for BrainHealth, where Dr. Bond Chapman is currently the director.  This is a fascinating read, by an enthusiastic and optimistic doctor bent on getting everyone to optimizing their brain power. 

This review appears in The Stratford Gazette on February 27, 2013. Written by Robyn Godfrey, Librarian.

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