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The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live--and How You Can Change Them Hardcover – March 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Look forward to cultivating keener attention, having more attunement to others, and being more connected to your own intuition. It's all possible - and this book shows you how. Deepak Chopra We all ask the question "who am I?". For me this guy has answered it. Ruby Wax 'an eye-opener...replete with breakthrough research that will change the way you see yourself and everyone you know...cutting edge findings formulated in a delightful, can't-put-it-down read. I loved this book. Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence Whether he is measuring neural activity in the laboratory or climbing the Himalayas to meet the Dalai Lama, Davidson is an inveterate explorer who has spent a lifetime probing the deep mystery of human feeling. Don't miss this smart and lively book by the world's foremost expert on emotion and the brain. Daniel Gilbert, Ph.D., author of Stumbling on Happiness What a gift from the world's leading neuroscientist who works on what makes life worth living. This is a must read for everyone who is interested in positive psychology. Martin E. P. Seligman, Author of Learned Optimism and Flourish The best book I know on how to use the exciting discoveries of neuroscience to change your life. A fabulous read - a scientific adventure story like Sherlock Holmes meeting Watson and Crick with the Dalai Lama as their advisor. Jack Kornfield PhD Richard Davidson, a visionary neuropsychologist, joins with Sharon Begley, one of the most astute science writers, to illuminate the dimensions of our emotional make up and offer cogent and compelling ways for us to grow into more effective and fulfilled selves. Jerome Groopman, Recanati Professor, Harvard Medical School & co-author of Your Medical Mind This superb book is many things -- a crystal clear tour of the neuroscience of emotion; a primer about how the scientific process works; a personal story by a really likeable guy; and the promise of a better world. This is a wonderful book. Robert M. Sapolsky,Ph.D., author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers and Monkeyluv A mind-opening journey guided by one of the world's great pioneers in the study of emotion. Richard Davidson addresses the questions about how we become who we are with a scientific rigor and impassioned curiosity that enable us to understand others and ourselves, as well as to directly influence how we approach life with a sense of resilience and vitality. He also crucially reveals the science-proven steps we can take to improve the function and even the structure of our brain. Soak in the wisdom of these pages and enjoy! Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., author of Mindsight Richard Davidson's distinguished scientific career has been dedicated to making sense of human emotion and deepening its significance. Now, with the help of writer Sharon Begley, he turns a trove of accumulated facts into wisdom accessible to lay readers and directly applicable to their lives. Antonio Damasio, Ph.D., author of Self Comes to Mind and The Feeling of What Happens In this spine-tingling journey through the hills of the Himalayas and the circuitry of your brain, visionary neuroscientist Richard Davidson uncovers deep and practical insights into humanity's oldest questions. Who are we as individuals? What are the origins of our minds? How do we find peace and cultivate greater kindness for all? Weaving together the latest neuroscience of brain plasticity and emotion and the timeless wisdom of Buddhist thought, The Emotional Life of your Brain will lead you to answers to these questions, and leave you inspired by science and the promise of change for the better. Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., author of Born to Be Good With a message of hope and empowerment and a surprising degree of clarity for one of humanity's most complex topics, this book may finally be the world's first introduction to the extremely scientific future of psychology. New Scientist --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Richard J. Davidson, PhD, is the William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and director of the W. M. Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior and the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin- Madison.

Sharon Begley has been the science editor and science columnist at Newsweek as well as science columnist at The Wall Street Journal.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hudson Street Press; 1st edition (March 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594630895
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594630897
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Richard J. Davidson is the William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, Director of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior and the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience, Founder and Chair and the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Please visit his website at http://richardjdavidson.com/

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

289 of 296 people found the following review helpful By Mark Wehrenberg on March 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The author is a prominent researcher in neuroscience, specifically what has become "affective neuroscience." That is, the study of the neurological basis of emotions. Here, you will read about 6 distinctive brain patterns, or circuits, that underlie how people react to the world, in particular how people regulate their emotions. You won't read about the difference between brain patterns representing Joy vs. Pride vs. Amusement, or Sadness vs. Shame vs. Envy. Presumably these are higher level categorizations which don't have such clear brain signatures (yet?). Instead, the author describes these 6 brain circuits as the underpinnings of what he calls Emotional Style which govern the context and duration of emotions for different people, and which ultimately give rise to moods and personality.

The 6 categories of Emotional Style are:

- Resilience: How slowly or quickly you recover from adversity.

- Outlook: How long you are able to sustain positive emotion.

- Social Intuition: How adept you are at picking up social signals from the people around you.

- Self-Awareness: How well you perceive bodily feelings that reflect emotions.

- Sensitivity to Context: How good you are at regulating your emotional responses to take into account the context you find yourself in.

- Attention: How sharp and clear your focus is.

At first I was wary of this approach, as there are numerous classification systems for emotions that strike me as somewhat arbitrary. After a while though, it sunk in and I realized how fundamentally these functions affect the contours (ups and downs) and contexts of our emotional states, and how we perceive and react to our social world.
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115 of 120 people found the following review helpful By Book Fanatic TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is just a really good book. I recently read Quirk: Brain Science Makes Sense of Your Peculiar Personality and the two of them together provide an excellent view of emotions and your brain. They are very different though. Quirk is kind of quirky and all about mice and (wo)men. This book has a much more professional and serious tone. They both are valuable and useful.

This book traces the author's history in psychological and neuroscience research. At first that bugged me as it seemed to be all about him. Most of the research in this book is his own and/or that of his students. However, in the end I think that turned out to be a good thing both because he quite obviously is a preeminent expert in the field and he goes pretty deep into the implications of his own findings. In other words he knows what he is talking about and not just speculating about the meaning of someone else's work. In any case you see the history and the evidence in favor of the author's ideas build over time and he does an excellent job putting it all together. He definitely believes you can alter to some degree your emotional profile and he ends the book with suggestions for exercises on how do to that for any of the six dimensions he describes.

You will come away from reading this book with a much deeper understanding of the dimensions of your emotional style and their underlying neural correlates. This book is definitely for the general reader and while it is densely packed with information it is not overly technical or academic.

I highly recommend this to readers who are curious about the brain in general or emotions in particular.
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214 of 229 people found the following review helpful By Bill Gallagher on March 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Let me start off by saying that overall I liked this book and felt I got some valuable insights on issues related to emotional psychology, brain science, and a wee bit on meditation. So I'm glad I bought and read this book. But the insights felt more subtle than big "aha"s and the supposed heart of the book--understanding our/the six core emotional styles--fell a bit flat for me.

Maybe looking for "ahas" is a lot to ask of any book--and certainly I don't expect that of everything I read--but there wasn't enough payback in the overall reading pleasure of The Emotional Life of Your Brain to overcome some awkwardness and unrewarding parts to call this "must reading"--at least not for a general audience (for those interested in research on our emotions and the brain, you will definitely find it worthwhile).

Information Gained
I think the heart of my issues with this book were with the research of the six emotional styles. It's not that doubted the validity of what Davidson discovered, but the discoveries didn't feel that exactly translated into actionable behaviors. In small part, my problem was I didn't truly get the distinction of the difference between some of the styles. That is, we're told there are six emotional components that are crucial (or at least measurable) to how we react emotionally: Resilience, Outlook, Self-Awareness, Social Intuition, Context Sensitivity, and Attention. The differences between Resilience and Outlook seem pretty subtle and especially so for Social Intuition and Context Sensitivity (which is about relating to people in an appropriate way given the context).
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