Making a Good Brain Great: The Amen Clinic Program for Achieving and Sustaining Optimal Mental Performance
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Daniel Amen, M.D., one of the world¡¯s foremost authorities on the brain, has news for you: your brain is involved in everything you do¡ªlearn to care for it properly, and you will be smarter, healthier, and happier in as little as 15 days!
You probably run, lift weights, or do yoga to keep your body in great shape; you put on sunscreen and lotions to protect your skin; but chances are you simply ignore your brain and trust it to do its job. People unknowingly endanger or injure their brains, stress them by working at a frenzied pace and not getting enough sleep, pollute them with caffeine, alcohol, and drugs, and deprive them of proper nutrients. Brain dysfunction is the number one reason people fail at school, work, and relationships. The brain is the organ of learning, working, and loving¡ªthe supercomputer that runs our lives. It¡¯s very simple: when our brains work right, we work right¡ªand when our brains have trouble, we have trouble in our lives.
Luckily, it¡¯s never too late: the brain is capable of change, and when you care for it, the results are amazing. Making a Good Brain Great gives you the tools you need to optimize your brain power and enrich your health and your life in the process. The principles and exercises in this book, based on years of cutting-edge neuroscience research and the experiences of thousands of people, provide a wealth of practical information to teach you how to achieve the best brain possible. You will learn:
?how to eat right to think right
?how to protect your brain from injuries and toxic substances
?how to nourish your brain with vitamins and do mental workouts to keep it strong
?the critical component of physical exercise, and which kinds work best
?how to rid your brain of negative thoughts, counteract stress, and much more
Full of encouraging anecdotes from Dr. Amen¡¯s many years of experience, Making a Good Brain Great is a positive and practical road map for enriching and improving your own greatest asset¡ªyour brain.
From the Hardcover edition.
Outstanding This is an outstanding book; easy to read, useful tips, and written in a way that will engage the reader....more info
Fascinating and Life Changing I can't believe that this book is not better known. The implications of it are enormous. It is well written and logically organized and has tons of practical information for ways to more effectively use your brain. Yes, much of it is common sense, but the writer backs it up with evidence I hadn't read before. As a result, I've begun taking fish oil supplements, eating differently, working suduko puzzles and cutting back on alcohol and coffee. If I have one criticism of this book it is that there is almost too much in it. You hardly know where to begin.
I think a critic could say that Dr. Amen is self-promotional, and that the book is a long ad for his clinic. But I took this information to be the product of real enthusiasm for his work.
While this book can't answer all the mysteries of the brain, and while it can't hope to be a tool for diagnoses, it is well worth the time to read it and think about the beneficial changes you can make....more info
recommended by Tufts I get Tuft University's health newsletter and this book was recommended. There are so many books out there these days which cover this topic, it was helpful to have a recommendation from such a reputable source. I'll be using this book!...more info
Excellent book This is an excellent book: informative, clear, and packed with practical suggestions. Current brain research coupled with a wealth of individual case studies makes this a valuable guide....more info
Simple methods to improve brain functioning "Making a Good Brain Great" is very insightful and easy to read. Dr. Amen clearly points out how to improve brain functioning through very easy, everyday methods. The book explains how one does not necessarily need medication and therapy to improve brain function, but how a person can change their diet, do simple physical and mental exercises, take all-natural supplements, and modify their thought process. I found it very interesting how a person who has damaged their brain through substance abuse or head injuries is still able to improve and heal their brain. Being a follower of Dr. Amen's work I am again impressed with his insight, research, and wisdom. ...more info
Can't put it down! I love this book. I checked it out of the library, and after spending the entire week delving into it, I have decided I must have this book on my bookshelf. It is a great resource book to read aloud to your spouse and family. ...more info
Brainpower to the Max! Hi I not smart man. I reed Dr. Amen book mak mee more smarter. Reeding slow. Amen yooz two meny big wurdz. Ask Peggy help but Peggy say two bizee go away.
Finish chapter 1 by myself. Head hurt. Dont know I am getting smarter.
Finished another chapter. I think I understand better, like a cloud is lifting from how I look at the world.
I am now halfway through the book, and my thoughts are no longer as confused and muddled as before. In fact, with my newfound clarity, I feel confident I can return to school and get my highschool diploma.
I am nearly finished with the book, and I realize now that high school would be a waste of my time. I will enroll at the local university and study physics, mathematics, music, history, and philosophy.
Having completed the book, I am eager to fill my mind with the knowledge and experience denied to me by my former limitations. My university classes engage and stimulate me, but I require more. Tomorrow I will enroll in all the courses offered at the University, including the graduate ones.
I have completed studies equivalent to 32 PhDs, yet I still hunger for more. I awoke this morning from a fitful sleep, having drifted into slumber composing a twelve-part trans-harmonic fugue over Bloch's higher Chow group inconsistencies with motivic cohomology, and felt my mind struggling to achieve transcendence as the dawn broke. In an epiphanic flash, the scales fell from my eyes and I perceived the truth and unity of the world. More important, I instinctively felt how my expanding consciousness might exert control beyond the ambits of the flesh.
The being who began this review no longer exists in corporeal form and has merged with the All. Its singular perspective has become infinite in your time and space. Its last desire was to thank Dr. Amen for his book, without which none of this would have been possible....more info
recommended by Tufts I get Tuft University's health newsletter and this book was recommended. There are so many books out there these days which cover this topic, it was helpful to have a recommendation from such a reputable source. I'll be using this book!...more info
Provides sound information What I enjoy about this product is it is on CD. This allows me to listen to the information in my car while driving. It's nice to have options of books or CD for those of us that are constantly on the go and over worked with our eyes reading.
Thanks for offering a product that helps develop one's productivity with tools of thought through the CD version....more info
Informative and easy to read! I found "Making a Good Brain Great" to be a wonderfully easy book for the common person to read and understand. Dr. Amen shows you that proper brain health is essential for all aspects of your life, whether it be work or relationships. He teaches you that even the smallest day to day things that no one ever thinks about can still harm your brain significantly.
Dr. Amen even includes brain-healthy recipes to keep your brain functioning at its best with proper nutrition. This book is unique because the first half is devoted to teaching you about the different brain systems and what harms it. The second half teaches you how to reverse the damaging effects and nourish your brain.
The best part of the book in my opinion is that every regiment needed to live a brain healthy life is outlined in the book. All of the supplements or vitamins that Dr. Amen suggests are clearly explained in terms of ingredients, dosage, and benefits so there is no need to do research elsewhere! ...more info
How ALA, ALC and CoQ10 can help change your mind... An excellent book on the benefits of keeping ones brain sound and healthy. I quite ennjoyed learning about the different parts of the brain, the supplements that can help enhance performance in each of its areas and the pointers on how to make my brain better. Great read and very educational. Highly recommended.
I Must Have a Great Brain Already... This book was given as a present and I noticed it reflected the giver's fears about losing mental faculties in the natural, aging process. However, after reading the first few chapters and taking some time to skim over the rest, I found it told me nothing new about how to take care of the physical portion of my mind. It basically said to eat right, exercise, keep learning new things, get enough sleep, avoid over-doing alcohol and drugs, even prescription ones; all obvious (I hope) to anyone interested in keeping their wits about them.
No, I don't recommend this book in particular. However, I will always recommend investigating what can be done to put off old-age befuddlement. And if, for my fellow readers, it means this book, then by all means, grab it and go....more info
Wonderful information This book is great. It is truly a guide to improve our brains. This book is a must for anyone that cares about their health and mind. Many of the points he brings out are things I really hadn't thought about like, pollution, sleep and being deprived of proper nutrients. This book tells us how to improve our brains/minds in as little as 15 days. Must have book....more info
Much food for the brain, about the brain... I was professionally educated during a time when little was really known about the brain and exactly how it works. We were taught that the brain essentially remains the same throughout life and that once an area of the brain was damaged, that was it: the brain did not repair itself, grow new cells, or transfer abilities from one area to another. Furthermore, the idea that the brain needed "exercise" to remain healthy and productive was considered just a crazy notion. I remember professors of psychology telling us that memory ability was pretty well fixed and there was nothing that we could do to improve our memories, so forget about memorizing anything in an attempt to "exercise" such a faculty. How times have changed!
Over the past few years, I have read and often reviewed a number of new books -- many of them on the cutting-edge -- which have reported on or summarized the latest research in brain science and allied disciplines. I am impressed by the amount of work done in brain science during the past few decades and even more impressed with the findings. There is no question about the importance of the research. As Dr. Daniel Amen points out in his new book, "Making a Good Brain Great," our brain is involved in everything we do, it is the most complicated organ in the universe, and our brain can be changed so we can improve our lives. And he provides a program, the "fifteen days to a better brain," to do just that: improve our lives.
This is a very practical book, intended for everyone. Two things about the book that seem to distinguish it from others I have read are the pictures of actual brain scans of real people (showing the brain reacting to various stimuli and in various situations) and the many self-questionnaires and fill-in forms which are provided, enabling anyone to evaluate themselves regarding certain behaviors and attitudes, both healthy and unhealthy. One could really consider it a "workbook" or "activity book" in promoting brain health for improved living. It seems to me it is not merely a book to be "read," but to be used often and consulted regularly; a "user's manual" for a healthy life, so to speak.
A number of recommendations made by Dr. Amen are sure to draw attention and provoke controversy. For instance, he opposes allowing children to hit soccer balls with their heads (the soccer moms will now unite in protest!). He doesn't like children playing tackle football (the dads will now join the soccer moms!). He has "reservations" (I'm being kind here) about many other sports and recreational activities, such as "four-wheeling," which are sure to elicit the charge of "overprotective parent." Moreover, he discusses protecting our brains from "toxic exposure" and we all know what's going to happen now. Not just illicit drugs (which we all know are harmful to our brains -- "This is your brain on..."), but perfectly legal and legitimate drugs come into play.
Alcohol, for example. "At the Amen Clinics we have seen many alcoholics, and they have some of the worst brains of all," says Dr. Amen. OK, so I'm not an alcoholic -- why worry? Well, it seems that "small amounts of alcohol after age twenty-five are okay, but don't push it." How much? Maybe "a glass of wine once a week or once a month...." Read and weep, you party animals, but recognize at least what you are risking.
Nicotine, for example. Well, of course, this is now a given. No one contests anymore the harm done by smoking and its related activities. "Nicotine...constricts blood flow to the brain, eventually causing overall lowered activity and depriving the brain of the nutrients it needs." OK, this is a no-brainer (excuse the pun). Let's move on.
Caffeine, for example. Well, after discussing some of the "bad" effects of this most-common drug (yes! it's a drug), Dr. Amen's advice is simply to use "As little caffeine as possible...if you want to respect and nurture your brain."
Now, is this book nothing more than a list of "do nots"? Is this book recommending a life of utter boredom, a refraining from fun and games, a life that is stifling, dull, and colorless? Far from it. Most of the recommendations are positive and constitute good, practical advice. We want to live well, don't we? We want to be physically healthy, don't we? We want our brains to be around for a long time in a way that permits us to live meaningful and productive lives, don't we? OK, then there are some rules to accept and to integrate into our lives.
These are essentially quite simple: We are what we eat, so eat right; We need to do mental "workouts" to stay in tune; We need to exercise physically to keep in shape; We need to counteract bad stress and rid ourselves of negative thoughts; We need to stay away from activities which may harm our brains and avoid those toxic substances which may poison them. If, per chance, you think this is just too much and you don't how to begin such a regimen -- much less sustain one -- Dr. Amen devotes well over 150 pages to provide you with a program for doing just that, topped off with a whole chapter on "Fifteen Days to a Better Brain."
As if that wasn't enough, the author also includes an appendix about "brain SPECT imaging" which will bring you up-to-date on this amazing technology, a glossary of terms so you know what you're talking about, a list of citations and references for further reading, and a comprehensive index of included topics. "Making a Good Brain Great" is a book I can recommend without any reservation. It is well written and easily understood and, yes, often entertaining. The only ones who won't like this book, I'm sorry to say, are the "brainless" (pun intended!)....more info
A must read for thinking people This book is great. It's a must for anyone who wants to know how to prolong and promote healthy brain functioning. It's full of useful advise on achieving this. It's one of the books that shall be read many more times 'cause it's that informative....more info
making a good brain great A thought-provoking an informative book, it provides new insight into the mind-brain system and has made me rethink my own thought processes. Sounds redundant, but it's true! Love the book....more info
Good, but...................... The book offers very good and helpful information. The problem is that a times, the language gets way too technical for the average non-professional like me. It had a tendency to "bog down" occasionally....more info
Table Tennis As A Positive Exercise It is interesting that Dr. Amen prescribes table tennis as an activity that will enhance our brains. I have thought the same thing for years and years.
Dr. Amen is certainly on target with this book!!!...more info
Slams videogames, rehashes "Change Your Brain..." book, costs more In my opinion Daniel Amen is willing to be unscientific and misrepresentative to profit from book sales and patients he draws to his chain of brain-scan clinics.
In this book Amen concludes videogames are bad for people (p.117-118) pulling this idea from two unnamed studies both from the same organization and to his personal experience with an angry child-patient who became calm with care, then regressed when returned to his dad's restriction-free home which happened to include video games. His unscientifically sound concluded it was the video games that made the kid act aggressively.
As a lifetime video game player I reject this conclusion and wish to direct your and Amen's attention to the American Psychological Association's wishy-washy, but more correct & accurate state of videogame violence research: http://www.apa.org/science/psa/sb-anderson.html
As a book reader I'd look elsewhere for insight, help, and mastery over your brain. For serious problems see as many psychiatrists as you need to find one you want to employ. For mood problems try Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy http://www.amazon.com/dp/0380810336 - it's cheaper than Amen's....more info
Just do what your mom taught you I read a great book on the weekend - "How to Make a Good Brain Great" by Daniel Amen M.D. He studies brain function scientifically using brain scans. He runs a "Brain" clinic specializing in helping people with problem brains. Many people unknowingly injure their brains through minor accidents and then wonder why they are having problems in some parts of their life.
The thesis of the book, which seems perfectly logical, is that the brain is responsible to a large extent for our overall health. He believes and provides proof that we can "repair" and improve our brain function.
Most of good brain health is just normal clean living and healthy lifestyle. He advocates aerobic exercise (more blood pumped to the head). He suggests trying new things to challenge the brain (I do this all the time).
The only part that I do not totally agree with or follow is his guide to supplementation. Some of what he advocates, I do like drinking green tea and taking multivitamins but I am not big on taking many supplements. We are in sync on eating a healthy diet including lots of essential fatty acids like ground flax and fish oil.
He advocates laughter something I have been trying to add to my lifestyle.
Overall, I have a very brain healthy lifestyle. The only exception to that might be sleep. He advocates getting 6-8 hours of sleep per night and never seem to find the time for that. This said, it is on my list to try to get to bed earlier.
Interesting that he is a big advocate of table tennis as a good brain sport since the Estill family is big on this (although I don't play as much as my father or brothers).
The book has 13 steps to exercise your brain. Some of these I do naturally - like "dedicate yourself to learning", "limit TV", "Limit video games (sometimes I play too much online chess". Others I can easily add like "break routine".
He also has a 15 day program to a healthier brain. I won't give you the program - you will have to read the book for that. It is a great book and worth the read....more info
Wonderful book Good reading for how we can improve our brain power. Lot of medical details (maybe too much for me sometimes). Good information on foods that are good for your brain and also exercise and sports....more info
A Healthy Brain Opens Many Doors I cannot agree more with this excellent book. A healthy brain, running at its full ability is the key to such a better, healthier and more successful life.
When it comes to exercising your mind, I recommend services such as the Health Club for the Mind - Agogus.com. Affordable and easy. For the rest, I am glad I already eat healthy, do physical exercises and play Ping-Pong!
making a good brain great The CD's arrived amazingly fast and in perfect condition. The information was very helpful. I need to listen to them again as it's hard to write good notes while listening. That's why I bought the book too. This is filled with information for a large variety of concerned people. I will invest in more of Dr Amens work....more info
Great food for thought...for everyone Summary:
Dr. Amen takes a very complicated subject and turns it into something anyone with a brain can understand and enjoy. He starts by expressing the importance of brain awareness, providing plenty of anecdotes and anatomical information. Throughout the book, he cites more studies than I can count, which is good because it backs his information up nicely, but is somewhat unnerving because there is little mention of how the studies were carried out. The technical jargon is kept to a minimum, which is a huge benefit for most people. Personally, I would have liked more technical information, especially with regards to his treatments. Many times it seems like a big advertisement for his clinic, which is ok because they are all positive cases, but still, rather than giving a once over of many patients, I would have appreciated more in-depth analysis of case studies. Despite these sentiments, the book was well written, albeit redundant in many places, and is very enjoyable for anyone interested in neuroscience or simply trying to improve his/her brain.
At his clinics, Dr. Amen utilizes Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) imaging. Two types of processing are performed. The first shows holes where there is less than 45% brain activity in an area. The second type shows where there is the highest 15% of activity. By looking at the brain under certain conditions, Dr. Amen is able to see where the brain is working the hardest and where it is struggling. This in turn allows him to truly see what we are doing to our brains when we do the things we do. This includes anything from depriving the brain of sleep or ingesting too much caffeine, to doing heavy drugs. He is also able to see changes with certain disorders (i.e. dementia, ADD, depression, etc...), making it useful for calculating the effect of a certain treatment, or looking at potential risk factors.
Dr. Amen starts the book by discussing the importance of the brain, and how it is involved in everything you do. While this sounds obvious, it is important to recognize that differences between brains result in differences in types of people. For instance, he talks about types of mothers, and how their personalities, which then shape you as a child, can be traced back to their brains. If they're guilt-driven mothers, for example, they may have increased activity in the limbic system where the brain houses its emotional centers. Realizing that all the aspects of our lives are driven by our brains is crucial for making changes we all so desperately want to make. Also, an important point that Dr. Amen makes is that in many instances we are hostages of our own brains. Some of the actions people do can be traced back to problems with their brains. He notes specific examples when he was asked to testify in court about the brain scan of a certain defendant. In one case the man had sustained severe brain damage (specifically in the prefrontal cortex where judgment is controlled) from falling off a ladder and one day killed his neighbors for cutting his tree. The brain scan was crucial because it showed he lacked the judgment of a healthy person, and because of this testimony the man's sentence, while still severe, was reduced. Pertaining to treatment, the Amen clinic looks at brain images to find the source of the disorder, rather than treating the disorder as a symptom much like many other doctors. Treating the source is much more effective; however it means there is no longer a "one-size fits all" mentality for treatment which has caused America to be such a pill-popping society.
In other sections, Dr. Amen discusses how soft the brain is, having a consistency similar to custard, and how important it is to protect it. He cites how dangerous contact sports are and how easy it is to permanently damage the brain by hitting it with soccer balls, playing football, or risking accidents by riding motorcycles and mopeds. It is also easy to damage the brain and not realize it. Dr. Amen provides self assessment forms to fill out and aid in determining if brain damage is present. He also supplies information about the main brain systems in a way that anyone can understand. Dr. Amen gives a good deal of detail on the systems, without boring those who don't want the in-depth anatomical explanations.
In Part II of the book Dr. Amen outlines his clinic's program for "making a good brain great." He discusses the importance of preventing physical harm, as well as eliminating as many unfriendly foreign substances as possible, backing everything up with many of his SPECT images. He talks about food as "brain medicine" and how damaging some foods are while others are crucial for proper brain development and disease prevention. Specifically, Dr. Amen discusses Omega-3 fatty acids quite a bit throughout the book, and how good wild salmon is in our diets. One nice thing about this part of the book is he gives a list of 24 extremely healthy foods that should be in our diets every week, including specific recipes, most of which are his personal favorites. Later in the book, Dr. Amen discusses specific supplements individually, citing studies and recommending daily intakes for different types of people. Aside from what we take in, the book talks about brain workouts, perception vs. reality, the importance of music, ways of de-stressing including meditation, risk factors for different disorders, how to get help, and lastly he outlines a 15 day plan to get your brain working better, which I intend to start soon.
The structure of the book, as previously described, was extremely effective since it established a knowledge base and gradually got more specific with information, finishing with his clinic's 15 day plan. For the structure, Dr. Amen broke the book up into many chapters, some as short as 4 pages, which was very effective....more info
Excellent book on your precious BRAIN! Very, very interesting easy to digest book. Dr. Amen's views on "brain-care" are practical and understandable. I've read LOTS of self-help books, and this one had some new tips for me. A good informative read with much good advice on foods, supplements and exercise. Wish I could afford a brain scan. Meanwhile, I'll eat my blueberries and wear my helmet when I cycle! Good job, Doc!...more info
Optimize your mental performance Dr. Amen begins this book by stressing the importance of the brain. The brain is where "you" reside. It's the seat of loving, living, being, learning, thinking, working.... The brain weighs three pounds, but uses 30% of the energy the human body consumes. Yet, the brain is a fragile miracle housed in a thin-walled bony bowl. It's easily damaged by physical trauma, emotional trauma, drugs, disease, and poor dietary habits.
Because of the brain's fragility and the common disregard for it, brain dysfunction is so widespread that it's normal. Perhaps it's because we don't see our brains, but most of us never address the issue of actually caring for our brains. Many brain-related problems are preventable. With a healthy brain, you can fully engage in life, meet its challenges, and be happy. Few of us choose this option, and that's probably due to a lack of good information on the subject.
Dr. Amen has analyzed thousands of brain scans. Consequently, he's been able to correlate specific brain dysfunction with specific actions people take. He has been able to go beyond observing outward behavior to observing inward behavior--how the brain responds to what is done to it.
What are some ways you may be drilling holes in your boat as you float along in the sea of stupidity? To avoid sinking, become familiar with these and don't do them! Here are some paraphrased examples from Dr. Amen's book:
Doing cigarettes. Whether you have one in your mouth or someone else does, you are still breathing in the same chemicals. The resulting vasoconstriction reduces blood flow through the carotid arteries, but also reduces blood flow through the brain's blood distribution system. In addition, this reduced blood is diminished because it's loaded with carbon monoxide rather than oxygen. While smokers may temporarily experience increased concentration, their overall brain functions are reduced dramatically. If you want to be stupid, smoke.
Eating highly-processed foods. These are "nutrient-challenged," to say the least. And they trigger whole set of hormonal and other effects that work against proper brain function. Shop in the produce section, and avoid foods that come in boxes.
Avoiding tough work. Brains, like muscles, follow the "use it or lose it" principle. If your job doesn't provide a good brain workout (and most jobs don't--they mostly challenge your ability to deal with bureaucracy and rudeness), find something that does.
Doing the same things all the time. When you try something new, you stimulate your brain into forming new connections. This activity increases overall brainpower.
Being a sloth. The brain is a physical organ. Physical fitness is a "doorway" to mental fitness.
Avoiding coordination-based activities. When you reinforce the brain-body connection by learning a new physical skill, you provide the brain with massive stimulus. If you are already a regular participant in a particular sport, that's great. But, you've already built those brain pathways and much of the benefit is already "cashed in." Now find another sport to build more brain pathways. Look for a sport that requires a different set of motor skills.
In this book, you'll also find a wealth of information on positive actions you can take to maintain and improve brain health. I'm pretty excited by this whole topic. Now that I've learned about the Amen Clinic, I'm going to investigate them further on their Website--and consider getting a brain scan myself.
A note on the writing: I was pleased that Dr. Amen and his publisher made this text clear and followed the rules of grammar. This shows they care about their message. After reading this book, I can see why they do....more info
Better than I had expected - a real winner This book is not at all what I had expected from the title but is a fascinating book with some of the most up-to-date research on how to take care of your brain. We tend to equate the brain mainly with memory and so it is a natural assumption that this book is about memory. Quite the opposite it is truly a book on making the brain run at its best and healthiest. The book is divided into two parts with the first one dedicated to changing the way you look at your brain and what can harm, or help it and why you should care. The information includes healing your brain system and new knowledge from the field of imaging including fascinating explanations and photos of SPECT imaging. The author includes explanations of the SPECT images and how they reveal many different problems. This section is about changing your brain and changing your life as a result. The second part of the book digs into how you can help get your brain in top running order and keep it there. It includes things like foods that contribute to brain health, mental exercises, perception, using music to stimulate the brain, stress reduction techniques, brain aging and using supplements. Daniel G. Amen, M.D. Is a highly respected expert in the field and provides a very interesting tour or the brain's normal as well as abnormal functioning. This is one of the best books available today on brain health and how any individual can take charge of the health of their own brain. Making a Good Brain Great is highly recommended....more info