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Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,363 Ratings  ·  139 Reviews
In this fascinating and far-reaching book, Newsweek science writer Sharon Begley reports on how cutting-edge science and the ancient wisdom of Buddhism have come together to reveal that, contrary to popular belief, we have the power to literally change our brains by changing our minds. Recent pioneering experiments in neuroplasticity–the ability of the brain to change in r ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published November 20th 2007 by Ballantine Books (first published 2007)
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Oct 28, 2007 Natalie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The content -- about neuroplasticity and the effects of meditation on the brain -- is very interesting. But this book is written in an irritating pop style that under-explains the science and boils everything down to "Scientist A was talking to Scientist B and then he had an idea that would change everything." Extremely skimmable and if you'd never read about these ideas before, maybe a good intro. But I've read better books on the subject. And her lengthy discussions of horrific animal experime ...more
Apr 17, 2011 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yes, another book with a great deal of information in it, and all fascinating to me. This is another that deals with neuroplasticity of the brain, but the author comes from a Buddhist background, so the whole discussion centers around the various meetings of the Mind and Life Institute, where various scientists or scholars in the fields of neurology and neurogenics come together with the Dalai Lama and his associates to speak of how the latest scientific pursuits in the field of brain science ma ...more
Feb 03, 2013 Polina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a pretty interesting book about the research on brain plasticity by the science journalist Sharon Begley. It focuses on a number of recent studies suggesting that the physical structure of the brain can change in response to experiences, sensory and cognitive practices. Perhaps the most radical of these are Richard Davidson's investigations into the effects of meditation on the brains of Buddhist monks. Other researchers show that cognitive therapy, combined with meditation, can effectiv ...more
Jul 23, 2011 David rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2011, audiobooks
This is a jumbled mess of a book. There are plenty of positives: Sharon Begley, science journalist for Newsweek, is an impeccable researcher, as the 13 pages worth of works cited notes will affirm. The overall message of the book is clear: while adult minds are not as flexible as children's minds, neuroplasticity is valid. You can change your brain by focused and repeated attention on changing your thoughts. Unfortunately, this jewel of material is good for a three or four-part newspaper column, ...more
Jan 06, 2015 Raahul rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cognizant
Begley spends 250 pages explaining what I assumed was common knowledge - that adult neuroplasticity exists. She does a good job explaining the history of scientific inquiry into the concept of adult neuroplasticity. However, this explanation is targeted to those who do not have significant scientific background. Second, her emphasis is on history. The majority of the book focuses on the progression of Western scientific understanding of neuroplasticity through years of research.

The preface of t
Heidi Thorsen
So far, this is the best book I've read about the brain. It describes various experiments on neuroplasticity and the general function of the brain and brainwaves, and the results of the experiments. Remember how we've all been told that once brain cells die, they don't regenerate? That's wrong. They totally DO regenerate, even in people in their 80s.

And although many brain inefficiencies such as depression, ADD, anxiety, OCD, etc. are largely influenced by genetics (certain people are born predi
Oct 18, 2014 Andi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having recently finished The Universe in a Single Atom, I was quite interested in reading Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain. It was an excellent companion piece to another book I'm currently reading on neuroplasticity, The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science. Many of the case studies presented in The Brain appear in Train Your Mind and it was intriguing to see the impact that these cases have had on research in the field of neuroscience.

Aug 13, 2008 Wendell rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I found this book a great intro to neuroplasticity. I read "The Mind and the Brain" first, so I was already familiar with some of the experiments and the concept, but the two books make for excellent companions. I can understand how some are turned off by the "self-help"-style title, and how the content is different than this, but for me the book was inspirational on another level than some trite self-help book. I've seen a book out there that fits this bill, but nowhere on its jacket does it me ...more
B.  Barron
Sep 02, 2010 B. Barron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, neuroscience
A little preachy, a little dogmatic for Buddhism – but that’s fair considering it is a project encouraged by the Dalai Lama. I also have to agree with the other reviewers who point out this is not an in-depth study but more of an introduction. Also bear in mind that I listened to the audio book, which is a different experience compared to reading.

Having prefaced as such, this is a great introduction to the topic. It’s interesting, entertaining, and informative. It definitely gets one of my rare
Nov 24, 2008 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who is interested in meditation
Recommended to Donna by: Ellen Grace Obrien
This author shares the history and background on neuroplasitcity - the ability of the brain to generate new neurons and new connections. It starts with a lot of research that has been done over the last century and ends up with what the Dalai Lama has done with science to study how meditation changes the brain.
Meditation can help us reduce stress, overcome obsessive compulsion and some physical conditions.
It is very well written and a must read for those who want to make real change in themselve
Jul 08, 2007 Pamela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book about mindfulness and neuroplasticity, a new concept; Buddhism and science interface! Several of the monks who had been practicing meditation for years and who were approached to undergo MRIs did not understand the reason for proving what they already knew. They kept imploring the researchers to 'try meditation'. The monks find truth from the inside out, and the west is trying to prove truth from the outside in. Interesting and thought provoking.
Laurent Videau
Apr 12, 2013 Laurent Videau rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Up to very recently scientists believed the brain can not be rewired and dedicated spaces normally used for specific functions retrained to do other things;

Very interesting experiments done on animals and humans. Captivating. Lots of hope for the future therapies of brain damage.
Beverly Diehl
Oct 28, 2014 Beverly Diehl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an excellent collection of stories and studies on how it appears that animals - and humans - can rewire their brains. Rewire in case of damage, rewire in cases of missing senses (sight, sound), rewire via training to compensate for certain learning disabilities like dyslexia.

If you don't know much about this field *raises hand* it's exciting, and Begley's writing is excellent. But in many ways it feels like a first quarter report card. There's still so much we DON'T know, that the o
Aug 10, 2011 Scott rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Easy read which has, for me, provided some impetus to go out and look at this burgeoning field of neurogenesis/neuroplasticity in psychology. Fascinating stuff, however, there are better descriptions of what is happening in the field than this. Begley does not have the scientific background to provide the significance of new data. She is a journalist and provides a bias and overstates the "breakthroughs" that this field is providing. Often I found myself rolling my eyes to her descriptions of da ...more
The book is a report from discussions held between Western scientists and the Dalai Lama at the latest (2004) Mind and Life Institute conference in Dharamsala, India, where the Dalai Lama has his residence. The topic of the summit was neuroplasticity, or the brain’s capacity to change. In each chapter, Begley reports on what the various scientists told the Dalai Lama on the topic. There is a lot of interesting research presented including the impact of voluntary activity on neurogenesis, cogniti ...more
I think I've discovered a new truth. I think that when it takes you way too long to read a book, you end up disliking it, even if you started off liking it. Especially nonfiction. That's what happened to me with this book!

It took me forever to finish reading this. Even then, I was skimming the last few pages. I just couldn't read it during my restful reading time (preferring my Anne of Green Gables series by far!), I couldn't read more than a couple paragraphs at a time with my one-year-old duri
Nov 04, 2012 Christine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended to me by a psychology professor at UCLA. It follows the research studies and experiments performed by scientists worldwide as they present their findings to the Dalai Lama during the annual meeting of the Mind and Life Institute. Basically, we are given examples of neuroplasticity in adult human brains and learn a bit of Buddhist teachings for how conscious thought can alter brain activity.

In high school biology, I was taught that the human brain is mapped in a specific
Jan 30, 2008 Tyler rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2008, nonfiction, audible
Sharon Begley covers a large swath of the most-recent research into brain plasticity, and does it in the context of the Dalai Lama's yearly gathering of scientists for the Mind Life Institute. Although it's a lot of material, Begley does a good job of organizing this book, so the reader follows the scientific community's journey from the old dogma that brains are fixed at age three to the current understanding that our brains remain plastic throughout life.

Full disclosure: I'm a true believer in
May 30, 2009 Ellyn rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
This book was recommended to me by a friend, who loved it. I was intrigued by the idea of neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to change in response to experience, so I decided to give it a try. In some ways, I think that I would have been better reading a comprehensive article about neuroplasticity rather than a whole book. It was very readable, but very scientific with lots of brain research and brain studies described in detail. It's pretty cool to think about all of the things that t ...more
Tonya Aiossa
Feb 20, 2008 Tonya Aiossa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with a brain.
Recommended to Tonya by: A kind woman at Vibrant Brains in San Francisco
I bought this book at the brain gym called "Vibrant Brains" in San Francisco's Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood. Vibrant Brains brain gym has a nice little library devoted to the brain and what you can do to enhance its function, particularly your own cognitive abilities, in order to "stay mentally fit." Since "body" gyms have taken off as a way to look good and be healthier, I think it's only natural that we start taking a look at our brain health.

As I embarked on a week's journey full of pu
Feb 06, 2011 Bonnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This fascinating book came highly recommended. For the past few months it was part of my “snippet reading.” I only read a few pages at a time in order to digest the powerful ideas presented.

Sharon Begley, a science writer for Newsweek, writes about neuroplasticity, ways that the brain can adapt, grow, and heal.

The foreword by the Dalai Lama references the Mind and Life Conferences that have explored connections between Buddhism and modern science. Begley documents the findings of many studies
Ann M
Feb 22, 2012 Ann M rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Finding this interesting on the subject of neuroplasticity. The brain's areas are dedicated to certain functions represented by, say, hearing. Hearing is apparently used to help figure out what is going on to either side of us -- as if that is the brain's purpose, not hearing per se. Deaf people have better peripheral vision, to use the eyes for this purpose. The brain also adapts to deafness; the area of the brain used for hearing/side observation gets involved in peripheral vision, where it is ...more
Marco Dal Pozzo
May 07, 2013 Marco Dal Pozzo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scienza, filosofia
Un testo coinvolgente, intrigante, divertente, appassionante.

Ne raccomando la lettura a tutti. Poco piu' di 300 pagine che scorrono velocemente e che portano un messaggio che definirei di speranza: alla fine non siamo segnati dalla nascita, non e' [soltanto] una questione di geni.

Con la nostra mente, con l'esercizio della nostra mente, possiamo cambiare il nostro cervello. L'impalpabile puo' cambiare la materia. Ripenso allo sforzo che facevo nell'allenarmi durante la settimana e alle soddisfazi
Mike Randall
Sep 18, 2014 Mike Randall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I loved this book, it was really difficult to get through. There were a lot of scientific tests and results, and I found myself re-reading entire chapters several times to make sure I understood what I was reading. While some of the scientific stuff could be difficult to understand, the author made it worse by being very verbose, doing things like having points and counter-points in the same very long sentence.

Having said that, I still loved it. It is full of new ideas about how our br
Un livre qui recense les travaux scientifiques des 30 dernières années, qui ont mis en évidence les capacités de neurogenèse et de neuroplasticité du cerveau tout le long de la vie, faisant voler en éclat les (encore) abrutissantes théories déterministes, 100 ans de psychologie et de neurosciences dans l'erreur et la croyance d'un cerveau figé, focalisées sur les études de pathologies, et un espèce de "point zéro" qui est l'absence de pathologie.

Cette ouvrage donne un formidable espoir à tout le
Dika Golovatchoff
Extremely illuminating.

This is the most significant book I have read in an extremely long time. Not only is the research impeccable but the conclusions are also extremely encouraging . I was really encouraged to learn what the tremendously significant effect of meditation can be upon the brain . Neuroplasticity was not a concept that I was familiar with so it is wonderful to become acquainted with such an amazing quality of the brain.
Mary Ann (MAA)
Jun 23, 2011 Mary Ann (MAA) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book that blended current thinking/research of the brain and mind. Includes description and history of research interwoven with discussions and conferences with the Tibetan monks, including the Dalai Lama. Neuroplasticity is at the heart of the book, but then continues further into how the 'mind' affects the brain physically. So we have physical brain that affects mind and the reverse as well. It's also intriguing how the author weaves and contrasts western science with Buddhist philos ...more
Jun 12, 2007 Kristina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: curious people
I had heard about this book on NPR and was very curious about the ability of the brain to overcome dyslexia. It seemed to be billed by the media is as a self help book and given the title, I thought I was in for a series of exercises to enhance my mind.

Instead, I found a well researched book that focused on many of the historic experiments on the mind. It went into detail about the many functions of the brain and how adaptive the brain is to the circumstances that befall it. The section on the s
Amy Haydu
Sep 06, 2014 Amy Haydu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was not an easy read, however I think it was a worthwhile read. It makes me wonder just how many old wives tales are true. Yes mind over matter - true. Yes the mind is a very powerful thing - true. Your mind is a terrible thing to waste - true. Science has the research to prove all.

We still have much to learn. I applaud the researchers in outlined in this material that have reached out to those outside of science for possible answers. There is much to learn outside of our comfort zone in al
Jul 05, 2008 Jeff rated it liked it
Shelves: health, religion
I was looking for a book on neuroscience and an exploration that uncovered the mysteries of how our mind works and this book did provide that. It also provided a hagiography of the Dalai Lama and a barely concealed proselytizing for Tibetan Buddhism. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. If she wants to tout the advantages of her religious and personal experiences I wish her the best. However when I heard her interview on NPR I was hoping to find more specifics on intellectual exercises th ...more
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