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Think Smart: A Neuroscientist's Prescription for Improving Your Brain's Performance Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 30, 2009

4.0 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, April 30, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"An insightful, varied prescription for achieving optimal brain health.... Highly recommended." ---Library Journal --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Richard Restak, M.D., is an award-winning neuroscientist, neuropsychiatrist, and clinical professor of neurology at the George Washington University Medical Center. The bestselling author of eighteen acclaimed books about the brain, including Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot and Poe's Heart and the Mountain Climber, he has also penned dozens of articles for a variety of publications, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. He is a member of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Neurology, and the American Neuropsychiatric Association.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; 1 edition (April 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594488738
  • ASIN: B002ZNJWM2
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,481,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Aceto TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I had a boss who used to yell at us "If you don't think too good don't think too much". Just like a Wall Street hero, no? Anyway, he couldn't be more wrong. This fine book issues from many years of research to proclaim that we truly can become smarter at a profound yet practical level. We can dwarf the IQs so many of us were saddled with as children. There is nothing like a little good science to rinse all the cultural goop out of our hair. Moreover, Dr. Restak is a good doctor to his readers.

This is not a self-help or feel good book. It is real practical science from a careful source. I wish I had this book when I was thirteen, but I am making use of it decades later. Then I could have used his description of the adolescent and adult brains. I like his writing style and the organization he employs.

Dr. Restak starts off Part One with a little scientific context so we can more fully appreciate his developing program in Part Two: how to care for and use our brains. First we take care of the whole body as an organic system. Proper diet is a real foundation; transfats and weight in general do matter. The next realm is physical activity. Seems all so simple, but he makes his case in a direct way you do not see everyday in other health discussions. And he addresses that most un-American of activities -- sleep. We have been dang near the most sleep deprived nation on Earth for decades now. He points out that we worry more after not enough sleep.

Once you give yourself a fighting chance by addressing fundamentals, you can address mental performance. Memory in its many aspects (even sense memory), creativity, games and more all explore the different dimensions of brain capacity or performance.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is well worth reading. The stated goal of of the author, Richard Restak, is to educate readers about how to make brain more efficient, effective, engaged. To accomplish this, Restak, who is a neuroscientist, interviewed leading neurologists and reviewed the very latest research in the field. This book is not only educational, but fortunately for the reader, Restak is a good writer who manages to write the book to a lay audience. As an added bonus, he's got a decent sense of humor to boot.

Restak informs the reader that the brain is shaped by individual experiences in life; thus, environmental enrichment leads to enhancement in the human brain. The book is divided into chapters designed to discuss various aspects of brain functioning, including:

1. diet and exercise.
2. specific steps for enhancing performance
3. technology to enhance brain function
4. fashioning the creative brain
5. impediments to optimal brain function and how to compensate for them

Those who keep current on their reading may find that they know some pieces of Restak's book. For example: exercise regularly, avoid trans fats, and get your Omega 3's.

The real merit in this book is that it compiles what appears to be the latest research into a single, well-organized location. Given the spotty nature of the disclosure of scientific advancement in the news cycle, I found this book to be a great way to fill in the gaps of what I already knew. Moreover, the book offers some tangible means by which to improve cognitive function.

At first I thought I would never be motivated to do the exercises mentioned in the book. Some of them are a bit awkward or involved for me (spend 10 minutes "memorizing" a coffee cup?).
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book will give you a basic overview of how to improve your "brain power". Notice I said "how to" because that is the main focus of this book. After a VERY brief overview of brain anatomy the Good Doctor churns out brief tid bits of research and their implications in mental well being.

I must confess that when I ordered this book I was hoping for a more technical and detailed presentation especially since the author was a neuroscientist. However, the book is too general and superficial to be of lasting value. Much of the information here is old hat and experimental works cited are not referenced for further follow-up should you so desire. I can honestly state that I did not find anything in the text that I was not already aware of and I am by no means a professional in psychology or neuroscience. The presentation reminded me of reading a National Geographic article without the pretty pictures.

All in all a good basic overview but with not much meat in the soup.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Richard Restak, M.D., has written several interesting books exposing us to the brain's secrets and potential ("Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot," "The Modern Mind," etc.) In "Think Smart," Rastak has compiled several prescriptions for improving bran function and perormanace that have been reccomended to him by colleague's over the years. In some sense, it is like a chef's compilation of cooking reccomendations made by other chefs; reccomendations straight from those who know.

To be honest, a decent amount of the advice is things we (should) already know - of the "use it or lose it" variety. The sections on improving memory and fostering and increasing creativity both come down to Restak suggesting interesting exercises we can all do to enhance these skills. Like the world of physical exercise, the best way to bolster prowess is to exercise our faculties.

Not all of the suggsetions, though, are common sense. The first section - on "care and feeding of the brain," summarizes the current nutritional and health research on the brain. How much sleep is good? What foods are good? How much will exercise help brain function? etc.

Even the two use-it-or-lose-it sections mentioned above depart from what many see as common sense; they operate on the premise that memory, intelligence, attention-focusing, and creativity are not fixed capacities, but can be substantially improved by the right efforts. While this premise is controversial and the jury is far from unanimous (Restak doesn't offer convincing evidence to the contrary), there is certainly evidence showing that memory and reasoning skills can be improved by exercise. Restak goes a long way in giving us good suggestions of exercises we can do to strenthen our mental faculties.
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