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Author Topic: books: what are you currently reading?  (Read 310066 times)
MC13
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« Reply #1040 on: August 24, 2011, 09:01:08 PM »

Just finished, 'The Brain That Changes Itself', by Norman Doidge.  It's an phenomenal book about neuroplasticity and the amazing things the brain is capable of with respect to healing, adjusting for physical limitations, culture & environment changes, learning, dealing with trauma, aging, thought manipulation etc., etc.  It's written for the non-scientist (I'm not a scientist), and it's a fairly enlightening book into how the brain works.   One key takeaway from the book is the importance of continued learning as we age, as continued learning triggers the production of chemicals in the brain that promote curiosity, alertness, motor control, happiness, and a general sense of well being as we get older.  Basically, use it or lose it is a central message in the book.  Learning a new language, reading history, studying art, and playing an instrument were all noted as excellent ways to keep the brain active, so keep playing and those neurons will stay alive and active!!

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« Reply #1041 on: August 24, 2011, 09:54:52 PM »

  Learning a new language, reading history, studying art, and playing an instrument were all noted as excellent ways to keep the brain active...


I do all of those things every day of my life.  Good information to know. 
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« Reply #1042 on: August 25, 2011, 02:59:18 AM »



One key takeaway from the book is the importance of continued learning as we age, as continued learning triggers the production of chemicals in the brain that promote curiosity, alertness, motor control, happiness, and a general sense of well being as we get older. 



Hi MC13, I have a few questions.

Can we really say which triggers/promotes which, "continued learning" or "curiosity, alertness, motor control, happiness, and a general sense of well being as we get older?" I understand that those two are closely correlated, but does one really cause the other as your statement seems to imply?

It would probably be just as meaningful to reverse the statement and say that the chemistry of curiosity/alertness/happiness triggers or promotes continual learning. Can we really say with confidence which comes first? Can we even talk about them as separate phenomena?

Does the book discuss theories about what other possible causes might explain this phenomenon? Are some people just born more inclined to be curious/happy/alert/continual learners?

Thanks
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« Reply #1043 on: August 25, 2011, 05:03:35 PM »

MC13, I read The Brain that Changes Itself about a year ago.  It's probably somewhere buried deep in this thread.  Anyway, like you, I found it an outstanding look at neuroplasticity written for the non-scientist.  I'd second your recommendation if anyone is curious about how the brain works.
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MC13
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« Reply #1044 on: August 26, 2011, 02:38:53 AM »

Hi MC13, I have a few questions.

Can we really say which triggers/promotes which, "continued learning" or "curiosity, alertness, motor control, happiness, and a general sense of well being as we get older?" I understand that those two are closely correlated, but does one really cause the other as your statement seems to imply?

It would probably be just as meaningful to reverse the statement and say that the chemistry of curiosity/alertness/happiness triggers or promotes continual learning. Can we really say with confidence which comes first? Can we even talk about them as separate phenomena?

Does the book discuss theories about what other possible causes might explain this phenomenon? Are some people just born more inclined to be curious/happy/alert/continual learners?

Thanks
The brain's ability to learn is only one small part of the book, whereas the broader focus is on the brain's ability to constantly change and adapt to a variety of factors.  With respect to learning itself, the book discusses critical periods that exist at various stages of our lives, mostly when we're young, and in these critical periods we develop fundamental functions that allow us to develop our senses, social skills, adaptability, ability to love, parent, etc., etc.  These periods are triggered by the release of endorphins, which make the brain receptive to learning.  It is suggested that these periods do close and over a lifetime the endorphins will stop being produced if the brain is not challenged through mental exercise, so I think the author would suggest (and this is my deduction) that the exercise of learning promotes the production of endorphins, which in turn promotes openness to new ideas, happiness and well being.  To illustrate the point (from the book), how many elderly people do you know that are very cranky and in the mind-set they had when they were in their prime?  Why, because their minds closed over time to adaptability and learning.  I'm way over simplifying and there's more science to it than making an argument of logic on the cranky elderly, but I hope the point registers!  Again, this is only one part of the book and the rest contains amazing stories about advancements in neoroplasticity and the effects of therapy on many maladies such as stroke, blindness, deafness, amputation, nerve damage, defects at birth, life trauma, et al.  That's about as far as I can go.  At the end of the day I'm just a non-scientict who read a really interesting book!  To illustrate that point, I'm now reading SEAL Team Six by Howard Wasdin.  It's time to digress and get back to playing.
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« Reply #1045 on: August 26, 2011, 03:06:17 AM »

Thanks MC13 that fits with other things I've read about human development. Fascinating stuff.

Speaking of human development two of the most interesting and scientifically rigorous books I've read over the past few years that have been rewarding and changed how I see my role as a parent are by Judith Rich Harris "The Nurture Assumption" and "No Two Alike." Drawing from social psychology and research on hiuman evolution, she exposes how much of the familiar theories on parenting and personality development are not supported by research and proposes a theory called "group socialization theory" that won my support as convincing explanation for why we do many of the things we do as children.
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« Reply #1046 on: August 26, 2011, 12:14:27 PM »

Thanks MC13 that fits with other things I've read about human development. Fascinating stuff.

Speaking of human development two of the most interesting and scientifically rigorous books I've read over the past few years that have been rewarding and changed how I see my role as a parent are by Judith Rich Harris "The Nurture Assumption" and "No Two Alike." Drawing from social psychology and research on hiuman evolution, she exposes how much of the familiar theories on parenting and personality development are not supported by research and proposes a theory called "group socialization theory" that won my support as convincing explanation for why we do many of the things we do as children.

Sounds interesting, especially as a father of 2.  I'll grab those two book and get them in the queue.  Have a great weekend!
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« Reply #1047 on: August 28, 2011, 05:18:24 AM »

Made for Heaven by CS Lewis.  This is a collection of essays previously published in other forms as far as I can tell.  The theme is whaat heaven means and should mean to humans. About a 2 hour read.  First book i e-cchecked out to read on my nook color.
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« Reply #1048 on: August 28, 2011, 02:00:10 PM »

I've not read enough Lewis this year. Will do so next year. 

Currently reading: 'Kilkenny' by Louis L'Amour
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« Reply #1049 on: August 31, 2011, 05:10:50 AM »

If there was someone here who recommended "Moonwalking with Einstein" by Joshua Foer, thank you!  It's been a very interesting concept and read so far (about 1/3 of the way through).

-Scott
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« Reply #1050 on: August 31, 2011, 10:04:06 AM »

      Re-reading "Cowboys are a separate species" by John R. Erickson. Amazing, funny, full of wit and my favorite living writer on the subject of being "ahorseback".

   Also started reading "A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23" by Phillip Keller. Being a shepherd himself this book offers an insightful view.
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« Reply #1051 on: August 31, 2011, 03:59:16 PM »

If there was someone here who recommended "Moonwalking with Einstein" by Joshua Foer, thank you!  It's been a very interesting concept and read so far (about 1/3 of the way through).

-Scott

Curious, what is the concept? 
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« Reply #1052 on: August 31, 2011, 05:13:12 PM »

Afer America: Get Ready for Armageddon by Mark Steyn

Cheery little tome. I would say a must read for all those watching what's going on and wondering what if anything can be done. Only Steyn could write about the subject here and make you laugh about it.

"Nobody writes a doomsday tome because they want it to come true. From an author’s point-of-view, the apocalypse is not helpful: the bookstores get looted and the collapse of the banking system makes it harder to cash the royalty check." 
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« Reply #1053 on: August 31, 2011, 05:30:05 PM »

Curious, what is the concept? 

The book is about the method of how to memorize information.  Based on actual fact of millenia of this being standard practice in the human race, but in the past few centuries has been all but lost as we archive our memories externally in books, in media of various types, in computers, etc.

However, it's not dry - it's actually quite a good read told in a narrative style of the author's journey to learn how to do this.  People used to memorize epic poems, entire scriptures, books, stories, etc.  This book basically lays bare an old technique attributed at one time to Cicero, but with modern twists.

I'm enjoying it so far.
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« Reply #1054 on: August 31, 2011, 05:41:59 PM »

The book is about the method of how to memorize information.  Based on actual fact of millenia of this being standard practice in the human race, but in the past few centuries has been all but lost as we archive our memories externally in books, in media of various types, in computers, etc.

However, it's not dry - it's actually quite a good read told in a narrative style of the author's journey to learn how to do this.  People used to memorize epic poems, entire scriptures, books, stories, etc.  This book basically lays bare an old technique attributed at one time to Cicero, but with modern twists.

I'm enjoying it so far.

Interesting I will look into this. I have always been somewhat phobic about memorization. Felt if I had to memorize it I didn't understand it. Consciously memorizing has always made me feel uncomfortable.
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« Reply #1055 on: August 31, 2011, 07:29:20 PM »

After America: Get Ready for Armageddon by Mark Steyn

Cheery little tome. I would say a must read for all those watching what's going on and wondering what if anything can be done. Only Steyn could write about the subject here and make you laugh about it.

"Nobody writes a doomsday tome because they want it to come true. From an author’s point-of-view, the apocalypse is not helpful: the bookstores get looted and the collapse of the banking system makes it harder to cash the royalty check." 


I heard Mark talking about his book and his thoughts of what will transpire as America collapses. He's a funny, intelligent man. I try not to miss him when filling in for Rush L. I get a little peeved though when men abuse the biblical teaching of "Armageddon, and "apocalypse". It trivializes the scriptures and lessens the true horror of the event as it is depicted in the Book. Mens' use of the word almost never has anything to do with the original and actual meaning. Sorry, just had to get that off my chest. Other than that, I enjoy Mr Steyn and think his ideas are well thought out.
I'm still working my way through Coulters' Demonic". It's been interesting.
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« Reply #1056 on: August 31, 2011, 08:36:47 PM »

broKen: I agree about the word apocalypse.  Way overused, like the words green, organic, and others that have become meaningless.  Regarding the message of those doomsday books, history is filled with folks who thought they knew what was going to happen but didn't.  It's best to put one foot in front of the other and keep on doing the next thing.  That has become the approach of my life anyway.

Currently reading: The Wise Woman by George MacDonald.
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« Reply #1057 on: September 01, 2011, 11:01:55 PM »

The book is about the method of how to memorize information.  Based on actual fact of millenia of this being standard practice in the human race, but in the past few centuries has been all but lost as we archive our memories externally in books, in media of various types, in computers, etc.

However, it's not dry - it's actually quite a good read told in a narrative style of the author's journey to learn how to do this.  People used to memorize epic poems, entire scriptures, books, stories, etc.  This book basically lays bare an old technique attributed at one time to Cicero, but with modern twists.

I'm enjoying it so far.

Thanks for answering that.  It sounds intriguing.  Let us know if you are able to employ what it instructs.
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« Reply #1058 on: September 02, 2011, 01:23:18 AM »

I heard Mark talking about his book and his thoughts of what will transpire as America collapses. He's a funny, intelligent man. I try not to miss him when filling in for Rush L. I get a little peeved though when men abuse the biblical teaching of "Armageddon, and "apocalypse". It trivializes the scriptures and lessens the true horror of the event as it is depicted in the Book. Mens' use of the word almost never has anything to do with the original and actual meaning. Sorry, just had to get that off my chest. Other than that, I enjoy Mr Steyn and think his ideas are well thought out.
I'm still working my way through Coulters' Demonic". It's been interesting.

I take your point and Steyn is intelligent enough to know that as well, but language evolves whether we like it or not and words take on newer and more general meanings in the general population. I would think Steyn has accepted the modern usage of the terms, apocalypse and Armageddon, rather than the purely biblical. Of course, with what is happening in the M.E. and Iran in particular, perhaps he's not far off after all. If you haven't watched the film Iranium, I heartily recommend it for a good, eye-opening scare.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/armageddon

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/apocalypse

http://www.iraniumthemovie.com/
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« Reply #1059 on: September 07, 2011, 03:00:12 PM »

Just finished Marilynne Robinson's "Home" over the weekend. A beautiful book...which is much different than the kind of book I usually read.

I really enjoyed it and got to like the characters a lot so this morning I went to my local independent bookstore and bought Robinson's earlier companion book..."Gilead". Looking forward to getting involved in Gilead.
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