Monday, August 11, 2014

Basic Brain Books

Photo of 19 C. brain maps photographed by Jhayne
Because I am a gerontologist, I'm primarily interested in research about how people can improve their brain health in response to age-related health problems such as dementia, stroke, and Parkinson's disease. I am even interested in normal age-related changes to the brain such as tip-of-the-tongue syndrome and slowing reaction time.

Before reading scholarly articles about cutting-edge research, I want to read some of the major books on brain health, especially those that focus on neuroplasticity.  I need a foundation of what's already been established and what is common knowledge among lay readers (non-experts).
Here is a list of titles they recommended to me (with most recent publications listed first and with one of my own additions, Ackerman).

Diane Ackerman (2011). A Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, a Marriage and the Language of Healing. My Review

Ackerman creates a customized occupational therapy regime for her author husband that helps him recover from his stroke-induced aphasia.

Barbara Strauch (2010). The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain: Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind. My Review

Strauch takes material I read in textbook chapters about cognitive change over the lifespan and makes it more accessible for a lay reader.

Norman Doidge (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science. My Review

Doidge shares stories about people with serious brain trouble who are healed because of the emerging research conducted by extraordinary neurologists.

Jill Bolte Taylor (2006). My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey.  My Review

Taylor is a brain biologist who suffered a stroke and recovered to write about the trauma and the triumph.

I had the good fortune of getting recommendations for some of the above books from these fellow midlife bloggers (in alphabetical order):
Have you read any of these? Do you have another recommendation for a book published in the last 5 years on neuroplasticity for the lay reader?  Let me know by leaving a comment below.


Books on Aging
Books about Dementia
Being Brain Healthy: Book Review
Cognitive Changes: The Usual Suspects


  1. Thanks for this list, Karen. My mom and I are quite interested in dementia as my grandmother suffers from it. I have given Dr. Bolte's book to my mom and she loved it! I haven't personally read it though. But I'll sure be keeping this list you posted for my next kindle purchases! Thanks again! :-)

    1. I am glad that your mom loved the book. It was the one book most recommended on the topic. Enjoy!

  2. I absolutely loved the Strauch book. Also Bolte Taylor's. I don't know if it serves your purposes, but I was entranced, years ago, by Into the Silent Land. You might enjoy it.

    1. Lynne: Thanks for the rec. I saw that book on some lists, but having someone I know definitely helps move it up higher on my TBR pile. "Entranced" makes me interested! Thanks.