Using quotes from Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass,” and a title such as Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot, you can be sure that author Richard Restak, N.D. adds fun and makes interesting this self-help book on brainpower.
After a short and interesting introduction to the medical aspects, terms, and physiological workings of the human brain, Restak starts right in with in-depth explanations of the brain’s natural functions and what we do to help or thwart them. In layman’s terms, he discusses the neurons and transmitters, the sections of the brain, and how each one functions, and, like the circuitry in a computer, how everything works together.
The encouraging part, which Restak stresses at every opportunity, is how the brain—unlike other organs and systems of our bodies—doesn’t have to age and degenerate with time, but does so by non-use. Breaking down the brain’s functions and use of perceptions and connections, the book touches upon aspects of brain involvement we might never even consider.
Emotions, language, art, music, memory, future memory, the five sensory inputs (touch, taste, sight, smell, and sound), and more, are broken down with explanations of what is going on, physically, in the brain while these come into play during the course of our day. The author follows these explanations with ways to keep that part of the brain growing and fresh (exercise, repetitive motions, magic tricks, visual games, etc.)
Many references are made to Alzheimer’s disease, which is of growing interest today as millions of baby boomers edge closer to the possibility of suffering from such. The main motto here is “what you don’t use, you lose.” If you are unfortunate enough to clinically suffer impairment of cognitive ability, the plans and exercises in this book will not cure you.
They can’t hurt you, either. And, if you are just the victim of your own lazy self, hearing Restak talk about what is, will be, or has happened to those dormant circuit boards in your head will surely get you thinking. One thing I loved about this book was that Restak explores the effects of culture change across time. He brings to light that ancient man may have had greater brainpower than today’s technologically enlightened humans.
This is attributed to the fact that without today’s technology, humans had to rely solely on their memory power. Humans were forced to remember things, or lose them to time. Whole plays, diatribes, military moves, everything from recipes to building plans, from family history to future plans, all had to be manually, if you will, organized and held in memory by brainpower alone.
Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot can help you understand that the brain does not wear out. It can be stimulated to begin new growth, and activated to stimulate you, as this book will do. Dr. Restak’s 28 steps can help you gain better control of your life as well as keep your brain healthier and with less risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s setting in. Based on medical studies, and filled with practical advice, this book makes the steps easy to follow.
However, although made interesting with examples and medical explanations, it sometimes gets a bit boring. There seems to be so much to learn, and some of the exercises seem too drawn out and agonized over.
Restak reads this book himself and does a fine job.