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Using herself as a guinea pig, a science journalist explores "neuroplasticity" to find out whether she can make meaningful, lasting changes to the way her brain works.
In books like THE HAPPINESS PROJECT, THE NO-SPEND YEAR, and THE YEAR OF YES, individuals have tried a specific experience and then reported on it, sharing the takeaway for the rest of us. In MY PLASTIC BRAIN, Caroline Williams spends a year exploring "neuroplasticity"--the brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections--to find out whether she can make meaningful, lasting changes to the way her brain works.
A science journalist with access to cutting edge experts and facilities, she volunteers herself as a test subject, challenging researchers to make real changes to the function and performance of her brain. She seeks to improve on everyday weaknesses such as her limited attention span and tendency to worry too much. She then branches out into more mysterious areas such as creativity and the perception of time.
From Boston to Oxford, England, and Philadelphia to Freiburg, Germany, Williams travels to labs or virtually meets with scientists and tries their techniques of mindfulness meditation, magnetic brain stimulation, sustained focus exercises, stress response retraining, and more. She shares her intimate journey with readers to discover what neuroscience can really do for us.
About the Author
Caroline Williams is a freelance science writer and editor and a consultant to New Scientist magazine. She also writes for the BBC and has contributed to the Guardian newspaper among other outlets. She is the editor of the New Scientist Instant Expert guides How Your Brain Works: Inside the Most Complicated Object in the Known Universe and Your Conscious Mind: Unravelling the Greatest Mystery of the Human Brain. She has also coproduced and presented the New Scientist podcast, web, and promotional videos.
“An easy-to-read journey through the world of brain research that gives a glimpse of what is happening there, all done with a highly personal touch.”
“It can be difficult to find quality [self-help] works within the sea of quantity . . . Williams strikes a home run in this brilliantly written and expertly researched book. A useful guide. . . . An eye-opening, encouraging, and hopeful discussion of neuroplasticity and how we can improve for the better.”
“How plastic is your brain? Is it worth taking the trouble and experimenting with your brain? Caroline Williams invites you to take a journey into the complex world of neuroscience to answer these questions. After taking myriads of tests and checking into leading neuroscience labs, she eventually finds her real self. This lucid, jargon-free masterpiece is an artful combination of engaging enthusiasm, good humor, and an impressive knowledge of mind matters. A satisfying food for the soul.”
—Gyorgy Buzsaki, author of Rhythms of the Brain
“I highly recommend this well-written and entertaining account of the Caroline Williams’s hands-on exploration, through the lens of neuroscience, of supposed brain-training techniques. In the process of demolishing some of the myths and promotional hyperbole surrounding these techniques, she provides fascinating insight into how our brains function and how this functioning might be improved with advances in technology.”
—Dr. James Alcock, professor of psychology, York University, and author of Belief
“A delightful book. Smart, spirited, personal, and stocked with well-researched psychological and neural facts, woven together in an original tapestry.”
—Marc Lewis, award-winning author of The Biology of Desire
“If your mind has a mind of its own, this is the book that will teach you how to discipline it and stop it from wandering off. Caroline Williams has written an entertaining, smart self-help book for people who hate self-help books. Her great skill is in navigating the complexity of neuroscience to produce a practical, no-nonsense guide to brain training that is also a page-turner.”
—Gaia Vince, award-winning author of Adventures in the Anthropocene