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177 of 180 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Very interesting and relatable content makes book a worthwhile read."
"Rewire your brain" by Dr. Arden is a very worthwhile book to read and through this review, I hope to quickly explain the basis of the book while encouraging you to read it. First I will give a short overview of the whole book and then I will go into a detailed review of my favorite sections, finally finishing with some tips that I believe will make this read even more...
Published on October 2, 2010 by Jennifer Carlson

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74 of 81 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the read
I was eagerly anticipating this book while I was on hold for it at the library. I was expecting something that would give me useful information on how to "think my way to a better life", as the title promises. But there's nothing really actionable and new in this book, much less cutting edge information based on the latest in neuroscience. Basically, eat healthy, stay...
Published on February 1, 2012 by S. Moestl


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177 of 180 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Very interesting and relatable content makes book a worthwhile read.", October 2, 2010
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This review is from: Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life (Paperback)
"Rewire your brain" by Dr. Arden is a very worthwhile book to read and through this review, I hope to quickly explain the basis of the book while encouraging you to read it. First I will give a short overview of the whole book and then I will go into a detailed review of my favorite sections, finally finishing with some tips that I believe will make this read even more rewarding.

I chose this book to read for my intro to neuroscience course expecting a technical book, although labeled "accessible" on the back cover review, written from a professional to other professionals. I was pleasantly surprised that this book was, in fact, accessible and was able to give me a lot of insight on how interconnected and changeable the brain is as well as practical ways I could apply this changeability to better my life. In all honesty, when I ordered this book, I only briefly scanned the description to make sure it had neuroscience concepts so that I could read it for my class. It wasn't until I received the book that I realized that it was a self-help book. Now after reading it, I would recommend this book to everyone, not only to those looking for help due to a difficult mental issue they are encountering. I am a biology and psychology undergraduate senior and have spent the past 5 years immersed in classes about neurons, psychological disorders, physiology, etc. but I was able to learn so much from this book. For example, I have heard all throughout my life that eating right and exercising are good for your brain, but I was never told a simple how. This book does this beautifully in my favorite section of the book. The style of the book was straight forward and simple. There were no long or complicated words outside of the neurological terms necessary. The author would begin each section with a story of a patient he had worked with and then continued with how each topic affects the brain and how use this knowledge to our advantage. There were 9 chapters in this book covering basic neuroplasticity, anxiety, depression, memory, healthy eating, exercise and sleep, the benefits of social interactions, resiliency, and attention. I will go into more detail on a few of my favorite chapters below.

CH 1: Firing the right cells together
This section is essentially the meat of the whole book. Here the author introduces the concept of a changeable brain and what this means to us. He describes how the different parts of the brain function, how neurons work, and how neuroplasticity occurs. Due to the content of this section, you may think that this part of the book would be more of a textbook type read, however that is not the case whatsoever. Dr. Arden manages to keep this section simple and interesting. He even throws in some fun facts that I really enjoyed about how a woman's brain and a man's brain differ. Here is one example: "Since woman's brains have a better connection between the two hemispheres ... words often carry more emotional meaning for women than they do for men." I definitely see this amongst the couples that I know. The most important part of this chapter is where the author introduces his method of how to rewire the brain. He uses a method he calls FEED, in which you focus, take effort to change, reach effortlessness, and finally are determined to stay in practice. This is explained very well and is followed up with a short example that allows you to relate this method to everyday life.

CH 2: Taming your Amygdala
The chapter is the anxiety section, a section that I think everyone can relate to very well since I'm sure everyone has experienced some type of anxiety at some point in their life. Dr. Arden draws you into this section by beginning with a story about a patient of his with public speaking anxiety. This was a perfect way to begin this chapter because not having any fear associated with public speaking is, I'm sure, a very small minority. That there is a way to stop this fear is very exciting because public speaking is something that has to be done all throughout life, from school to the workplace. The author then goes on to explain how anxiety negatively affects the brain and also how to moderate this anxiety. As it turns out, a common theme in rewriting the brain is to do the thing you don't want to in a method of "challenging the paradox": "Challenging the paradox involves doing away with avoidance and replacing it with exposure". In his theory, the more you expose yourself, the less anxiety you will experience.

CH 5 Fueling your brain and CH 6 Exercise and Sleep
If you have no interest in any other parts of this book, I would recommend getting this book just for these 2 chapters. These were by far my favorite chapters of this book. As I talked about before, you always hear how eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep is good for your body. But Dr. Arden goes one step further and actually explains why this is, down to the chemicals and parts of the brain involved. I won't go into any detail since I don't want to ruin the fun of reading these chapters, but trust me, they are fascinating.

Although this book was mostly easy to read, there were parts of the book that I found myself quickly scanning over because of the use of technical language, particularly in regards to the different parts of the brain. In some sections, the author would introduce many parts of the brain at once and this barrage of abbreviations could get overwhelming. While reading, I kept thinking that I wished I had made a quick list of different parts of the brain so that I could easily refer to it. A tip I would give to make this book even more rewarding would be to keep a sheet of paper or an index card near you when reading, even during the first chapter. Each time a part of the brain is introduced, jot it down with its basic function, what side of the brain its in, what topic it influences, and what changes it. Then if this part is talked about again, add the new information to the list. This way you have a sort of cheat sheet for quick reference while you read the book and even after.

By combining readability, relatable passages, and fascinating content, Dr. Arden creates a book that I believe everyone would benefit by reading. In fact, I am planning on re-reading this book while taking my own advice of making a so called cheat sheet so that I can get everything I can out of this book. So to end, I just wanted to say that even while I wrote this review, I used Dr. Arden's method of FEED. As he tells you in the attention section, it is important to focus when you are trying to attend to something. I took to heart this advice and tried my best to focus by turning off my TV and closing my internet browsing windows, and of course was able to write this review faster and in a more organized way than if I hadn't.
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147 of 156 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful, well written, and informative, April 5, 2010
This review is from: Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life (Paperback)
This book looked interesting as the neural plasticity movement is something that has come along in recent decades, since I was trained in neurobiology, and wanted to find out more about it since I felt I was somewhat out of date on new developments. So I bought the book and brought it home.

Then I looked at the back cover and it said the author was the "Director of Training in Mental Health at Kaiser Permanente." I almost threw the book away at that point, having rarely heard anyone say anything positive about Kaiser in the several decades I've been aware of them, and having read and heard a snoot full of negative stuff.

But I started to read it anyway, and I'm glad I did. It's a useful, well written, and informative book on these new ideas related to rewiring your brain. The author does a fine job of explaining the relevant neurobiology without getting too technical, and perhaps even more importantly, explaining how these new scientific developments can be used to rewire your brain. Such recent findings as mirror neurons, spindle cells in the hippocampus, neurogenesis, brain nutrition, differences in the brain between men and women, and many other new findings, get discussed along with their implications for plasticity and rewiring.

The book has a good chapter on brain nutrition which has increasingly come to the forefront in recent years as a way to enhance brain function and prevent its deterioration in age, especially in the case of memory functions, so if you're into vitamins and supplements (or even if you're not), this might be the book for you.

This book is packed with useful information, but I would point out that although this new knowledge about the plasticity of the brain has been called a "revolution," there's nothing really new here. The great Austin Riesen (who I studied under briefly) first demonstrated the growth of synaptic trees and dendrites in response to learning and stimulus enrichment using monkeys as subjects back in the 50s. What's different is that we do know more about it and how to promote it, and it's taken more seriously now by physicians and psychologists and neurobiologists. And perhaps most important, apparently effective evidence based therapies and treatments have been developed.

Overall an excellent and readable book on this subject.
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98 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars REWIRE YOUR FOCUS AND EFFORTS, July 13, 2010
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This review is from: Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life (Paperback)
Author John Arden, Ph.D, is also the director of training in Mental Health for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California. His background makes him abundantly qualified to create a book with the objective of helping people "rewire" their brains. It's a tall, difficult, and very challenging order, but the book's content makes it possible.

John anecdotally illustrates the effectiveness of his F.E.E.D. method for helping people overcome their thinking based difficulties through stories about his patients. This rather simple system of altering behavior consists of four steps: focus, effort, effortlessness, and determination.

Focus is the ability to pay attention to situations without distraction. Effort is equated with actions and behaviors which help you change the things you habitually do, or how you naturally think. Effortlessness is the desired condition in which you have trained yourself through repetition to do things instinctively. Determination means simply staying in practice by engaging in beneficial actions again, and again, until they become natural.

Now that you know what the book is about, be forewarned: it's peppered with a lot of neuroscientific lingo. Don't let that dissuade you from reading it - every field has it's own lexicon, and if you are interested in the brain and how it operates, this book will help you build the vocabulary you need to communicate accurately and intelligently with other brainiacs.

I found the sections on memory, nutrition, sleep, social medicine (in particular relationship attachment styles) to be eye-opening. Because all of us need to rewire our brains in some way, at some point, this book will provide you with deeper insight into your own thinking process, as well as that of others. Most importantly, it will provide you with excellent instruction on how to change the way you think, and think your way to a better life in the process.
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74 of 81 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the read, February 1, 2012
This review is from: Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life (Paperback)
I was eagerly anticipating this book while I was on hold for it at the library. I was expecting something that would give me useful information on how to "think my way to a better life", as the title promises. But there's nothing really actionable and new in this book, much less cutting edge information based on the latest in neuroscience. Basically, eat healthy, stay active physically, maintain social ties, exercise your brain. I knew that already.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Re-read, if necessary, April 19, 2011
By 
Customer (Nürnberg, Deutschland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life (Paperback)
I found Arden's book encouraging, motivating and balanced. It is encouraging because by getting to know how our brains function, we know we are no longer randomly tossed around by the tide of life but can actively participate in directing our lives in the directions we desire. Of course, provided that we have the discipline, will-power, and belief to do so.

The book is also very motivating on many levels. I don't view exercise as a daily chore any more. On the contrary, I look forward to it, knowing that by exercising I mitigate the crippling stress that has taken control of my life over the last couple of years. It is possible that with time we will control our stress and won't have stress control us. Arden's chapter on coping with anxiety is also very telling. We can avoid everything that makes us anxious to the point of not doing anything. Arden provides a strategy for action instead of being stuck and not being able to take a single constructive step forward. The strategy is called Face your fears and expose yourself to your anxieties until they no longer make you anxious.

Finally, the book is humble and balanced. It discusses Buddhist meditation, yoga, and other ancient forms of body and mind self-control in light of the new discoveries in neuroscience, thus providing scientific evidence for their effectiveness. In this way the book creates a very comforting sense of continuity in universal human knowledge and experience. Compare Arden's approach to S.Hawking's claim that philosophy is dead, because advances in physics objectively and rigorously explain human existence. Does one have to validate one's approach by rejecting another? Why not build on another?

If you are in a black hole and can't get answers to your ultimate questions, get some hope and refreshing optimism from Rewire your brain.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical and Accessible, March 22, 2010
By 
James L. Linford (Oakland, California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life (Paperback)
Arden has done something in this volume that's hard to achieve--taking a body of complex scientific information and putting it into a form that is accessible to a broad audience. The book is based on sound brain science and good psychology, rendered in a way that lets us see how we can apply the lessons of cutting edge neuroscience to daily life. Highly recommended.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Towards a users' manual for your brain, February 13, 2011
By 
Jeremy Aldrich (Harrisonburg, VA USA) - See all my reviews
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Having read several books of this type, I find "Rewire Your Brain" to be a scholarly-yet-readable overview of how emerging brain science can be applied to improve your life. Each chapter yielded practical ideas, well sourced from academic studies, covering topics like:
- Taming your amygdala (avoiding the natural but unhelpful responses of your lizard brain to have less stress and anxiety)
- Fueling your brain (realistic ideas for using diet and nutrients to support brain function)
- Exercise and sleep (the sleep section especially had important advice for the growing numbers of people with difficulty falling or staying asleep)
- Social medicine (the importance of positive relationships in activating your mind)
- The mindful attitude (using non-frufru meditation to strengthen your brain)

The author speaks as an experienced practitioner with a wide knowledge of recent research. I don't get the sense that this book will age as quickly as many others like it, which tend to rely on speculation and often overly trumpet tentative conclusions.

Although I have given it five stars for the fantastic content, it is not a perfect book. The author relies too much on anecdotes of patients, often with too much extraneous detail and too much self-promotion. Also, the last fifth of the book (in the Kindle version) is taken up by references (good!) and an index (not so good since they weren't linked and an index is pointless on a Kindle anyhow since you can just search the book).

Nonetheless, I heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in this field and how it can be practically applied.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warmth is oxytocin, love dopamine..., September 23, 2011
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And wisdom is certain anatomical & neurological changes in your brain.

Sensational snippets apart, Arden's book explains how the various structures in our brain govern our behavior. In nine well organized chapters, he elucidates our neuronal structures, the amygdala & its workings, the left hemisphere's role in priming positivity, cultivating remembrance, dietary essentials for the brain, the upkeep of the brain's health, the social nature of our brains, the elements of resilience & wisdom, & finally, what appeared at first to me to be completely mystic, the realm of mindfulness.

I think that though the readers of this book may already be familiar with certain aspects that Arden speaks of - particularly the chapters on the neural infrastructure, amygdala & its workings, & the content on memory - I think that the value of this book lies in bringing it all together. I thought the Medina's Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School explicates sleep & memory much better, & Ratey's Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain obviously is an entire book on exercise & its neurological/psychological benefits.

I generally tend to like the "so-what" part of these books, & translating knowledge into application is certainly a strength of this book. The final two chapters on resiliency & wisdom, & practicing mindfulness were something I had not read content on at all in any of the other books on the brain & these two certainly are big differentiators of this book.

At the end of it, though, in a strange way, it comes down to healthy habits & healthy attitudes that we learn about growing up, & we lose somewhere along the line - strangely enough, it is very similar to how we, as toddlers, are adept at mid-foot running & somewhere along the line start stomping down on our heels.

Since memory is strengthened by repetition, even if you know some of this content, go ahead & read this book - you'll be at the receiving end of a hippocampal thank you.

@souvikstweets
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable Content, November 5, 2012
By 
Book Fanatic (Houston, TX, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life (Paperback)
This book is quite interesting and valuable. It explains how your brain is malleable and can be changed and how to do just that. The orientation is more towards mental health and less towards high-end cognition. I thought the presentation was pretty dry but in regards to content it is packed with really valuable advice on how to achieve a high-functioning state of mental health. I love the fact that the author explains the science behind his recommendations - it is really good.

This is a good book and if you want to find out how to rewire your brain for vibrant brain and mental health then this book is for you. If you are interested in improving your intelligence then this is probably not the book you need.

Recommended.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Instruction Manual For Your Brain!, February 8, 2011
By 
Derek Johnson (Irvine, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life (Paperback)
Rewire Your Brain is a wonderful distillation based on the latest discoveries in neuroscience. Dr. Arden takes what could be a very dry topic and brings it to life and makes it accessible. It's a quick, and pleasant read that has many "Aha!" moments.

I've read many neuroscience books and I would put this one top of the list for several reasons, the main one being that his being is actionable. His writing style and the way he explains concepts are done in a way so that you can immediately make the desired changes. For this reason, I call this my instruction manual for the brain. I wish I'd had this book 20 years ago!
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Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life
Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life by John B. Arden PhD (Paperback - March 22, 2010)
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