Sharon Begley is the senior science writer at STAT, the life sciences publication of The Boston Globe. Previously she was the senior health and science correspondent at Reuters, the science editor and science columnist at Newsweek, and the science columnist at The Wall Street Journal. She is the author of Can't Just Stop: An Investigation of Compulsions and Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain and the co-author of The Emotional Life of Your Brain (with Richard J. Davidson) and The Mind and the Brain (with Jeffrey M. Schwartz).
Wall Street Journal science columnist Begley reports on a meeting on neuroplasticity held by the Mind and Life Institute, an organization under the patronage of the Dalai Lama that encourages dialog between Buddhism and modern science. Neuroplasticity is the theory that brain cells and structures can be physically changed by life experiences during adulthood. While the book comes with introductions by heavy hitters-a foreword by the Dalai Lama and a preface by Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence)-most general readers will be left wondering what the fuss is all about. Neuroscientists may have been envisioning the adult brain as incapable of change, but this belief has never been as firmly lodged in the general consciousness. Begley does a workmanlike reporting job though not one engaging enough to convince the average reader to stick with this book. For academic and large public libraries.-Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, WA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
The Dalai Lama, Buddhist monks and some of the world's leading neuroscientists all gather once a year at a conference on the latest discoveries in neuroplasticity: the study of how the human brain can change itself. (This is the second book the subject due out in March, along with Norman Doidge's The Brain That Changes Itself). This remarkable conference serves as the center of Wall Street Journal science columnist Begley's account of neuroplasticity. Until recently, the reigning theory was that neurons in the brain didn't regenerate. Begley walks readers through the seminal experiments showing that in fact new neurons are created in the brain every day, even in people in their 70s. With frequent tangents into Buddhist philosophy, Begley surveys current knowledge of neuroplasticity. Most interesting is a series of experiments with Buddhist adepts who have spent over 10,000 hours meditating. What these experiments show is tantalizing: it might be possible to train the brain to be better at feeling certain emotions, such as compassion. No less interesting are the hurdles the scientists face in recruiting participants; yogis replied that if these scientists wanted to understand meditation, they should meditate. Despite the title, the book holds no neuroplasticity tips, but it is a fascinating exploration of the ways the mind can change the brain. (Mar. 13) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
"Excellent . . . elegant and lucid prose . . . an open mind here will be rewarded."--Discover
"A strong dose of hope along with a strong does of
science and Buddhist thought."--The San Diego Union-Tribune
"There are two great things about this book. One is that it shows
us how nothing about our brains is set in stone. The other is that
it is written by Sharon Begley, one of the best science writers
around. Begley is superb at framing the latest facts within the
larger context of the field. She also gives us the back stories
that reveal how human the process of science research is. This is a
terrific book."--Robert Sapolsky, author of Why Zebras Don't
Get Ulcers "Reading this book is like opening doors in the mind.
Sharon Begley brings the reader right to the intersection of
scientific and meditative understanding, a place of exciting
potential for personal and global transformation. And she does it
so skillfully as to seem effortless."--Sharon Salzberg, author
of Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience
"It is very seldom that a science in its infancy is so skillfully unpacked that it reads like a detective novel. The fact that this science includes collaborative efforts of neuroscientists, psychologists, contemplatives, philosophers, and the full engagement of the genius of the Dalai Lama is not only fascinating, but uplifting and inspiring. This book lets you know that how you pay attention to your experience can change your entire way of being."--Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Coming to Our Senses
"I have meditated for forty years, and have long felt that the potential of mind training to improve our emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being has barely been tapped. Thanks to Sharon Begley's fascinating book, though, that is about to change. As human beings, we really do have inner powers that can make a world of difference, particularly if our goal is not merely to advance our own agendas, but to cultivate compassion for the benefit of all living beings."--John Robbins, author of Healthy at 100 and Diet For a New America
"This is a truly illuminating and eminently readable book on the revolutionary new insights in mind sciences. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in understanding human potential."--Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart