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Think Smart

from the book jacket:

In Think Smart, the renowned neuroscientist and bestselling author Dr. Richard Restak details how each of us can improve and tone our body’s most powerful organ: the brain.

As an expert on the brain, Restak knows that in the past five years there have been revolutionary new scientific discoveries about the brain, its function, and its performance.  So he’s asked his colleagues — many of them the world’s leading brain scientists and researchers–an important question: What can I do to help my brain work more efficiently?  Their surprising–and remarkable feasible–answers are at the heart of his book.

Restak lists the findings of some of the ‘world’s most prestigious brain experts’ suggestions for anyone who wishes to develop and maintain an optimally functioning brain:

1. – Attention: This must be rock solid.  Attention in the mental sphere is equivalent to physical endurance in the physical sphere.

2. – Memory is a natural extension of attention.  If you attend to something you increase your chances of remembering it.

3. – Sensory memory consists of the brain’s initial recording physical sensations as they impinge on our sense organs.  Iconic memory (things that we see) and echoic memory (things that we hear) are the main forms of sensory memory.

4. – Long-term memory refers to information that becomes a permanent part of us (information about our work, our relatives and friends: basic facts about our culture such as holidays, movies, and television shows; income tax deadlines).  Vocabulary is the best example.  We can learn new words and phrases throughout our lives, no matter how old we become.

5. – Working Memory: Also known as short-term memory, working memory involves the most important mental operation carried out by the human brain: storing information briefly and manipulating it.  working memory differs from long-term memory in an important way.  While long-term memory is for the long haul–establishing memories that become permanent and available for future retrieval–working memory is for “right now.”

6. – Mental exercises:  For mental exercises to be beneficial to brain health, they should be tailored, I’m convinced, to each person’s interests and proclivities.  Because of this tendency for mental exercises to provide limited and circumscribed benefits, a program for enhancing brain performance must include efforts aimed at improving the functions mentioned above along with seven other key brain functions:

Visual observation

Fine motor skills

Tactile perception




Visual-spatial thinking

. . . The more vivid your impressions about what you see, hear, smell, taste, or touch, the easier it is to establish a vivid and easily recollected memory.