Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Transcendental Tuesday: Intelligent Books Dept.

New on our shelves is Marilu Henner's Total Memory Makeover:  Uncover the Past, Take Charge of Your Future.  Like most celebrity books, this one contains a good deal of hype; however, there are still ideas in here worth considering.

Veteran actress Henner has recently become more famous due to her being featured on 60 Minutes as one of a dozen documented cases of near-total memory, with a talent for remembering every day of her life.  No doubt this ability is congenital, not learned, but the book argues that people can improve their memory and thus better themselves, which is not so far fetched at all.

That the human brain can sometimes develop new circuitry has been argued by most of our leading neurologists such as David Eagleman (Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, 2012).  We owe what little free will we have, he argues, to that circuitry that can develop in the prefrontal cortex that allows us to put the brakes on our instinctual compulsions.  Free will as a free won't.

It has long been known that some autistic and brain damaged people can develop alternate circuitry in the brain to eventually make themselves more highly functional if not autonomous.  This is the subject of another new book we highly recommend:  The Woman Who Changed Her Brain:  And Other Inspiring Stories of Pioneering Brain Transformation by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young.  We should not underestimate our neuroplasticity. 

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