Neuroplasticity is a “hot topic” now, so there are many books out on neuroplasticity, including several bestsellers. Those listed below are simply the books I’ve read so far and found helpful.
NOTE: Just because a book has “neuroplasticity” or “brain” or “changing brain” in the title does not mean it is a useful, well-researched, or well-written book. I am certain there are good neuroplasticity books I haven’t read. I am equally sure there are mediocre neuroplasticity books I haven’t read. The ones I’ve read — and recommend — are below.
If a book is also available in alternative formats (formats other than paper and ink), I’ve included what I know about that information in parentheses after the author’s name. For those books that are available from the National Library Service program for people with print disabilities, I have included the digital book number. Books available from Bookshare are indicated by the letters “BKS.” It is likely that some of these books are available in other formats that I don’t know about. If you know of other formats, please let me know!
The Brain that Changes Itself by Dr. Norman Doidge (DB66329, BKS, Kindle, commercial audio)
This book is a terrific introduction to, and overview of, neuroplasticity. Each chapter addresses a different aspect of how neuroplasticity can be applied, and most focus on a particular individual’s recovery story or a researcher or clinician’s journey of discovery or perseverance. Examples of chapter topics include the vestibular system, pain, stroke, OCD, depression, and learning disabilities. If you want just one book that gives an overview of what neuroplasticity means and how it can be applied in diverse ways, this is the one.
The Brain’s Way of Healing by Dr. Norman Doidge (DB081613, BKS, Audible, commercial audio) is a very worthy successor to TBTCI. This book focuses specifically on treatments and recovery approaches for an array of health issues using an understanding of neuroplasticity. There are approaches you have probably heard of (Feldenkrais, exercise, visualization) and approaches you may not have heard of before (or may have doubted their scientific validity) such as cold lasers, sound therapy, and electrical stimulation. Again, the recovery stories are amazing, inspiring, and instructive. Disorders addressed include traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, learning disabilities and dyslexia, disorders arising from being born premature, skin disorders, etc. The information in this book has inspired more than one person to search out a practitioner for a new approach to healing. Very highly recommended.
The Last Best Cure: My Quest to Awaken the Healing Parts of My Brain and Get Back My Body, My Joy, and My Life by Donna Jackson Nakazawa (Kindle, Audible)
I highly recommend this book for people who want to read the personal experience of someone going on a plasticity healing journey. The author is a medical journalist who also had numerous serious health conditions. The writing is clear, compelling, and accessible — a combination of memoir and science presented in an easy-to-understand way. This book also presents — in an objective, yet compassionate way — compelling evidence for how adverse childhood experiences affect adult health (and how these effects can be reversed). Meditation, yoga, and acupuncture are discussed in depth. If you’re looking for a book that tells someone’s personal recovery from illness using neuroplasticity, this is the one.
Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence, by Rick Hanson, PhD (BKS, Kindle, commercial audio, Audible).
This is a wonderful book both for people new to neuroplasticity and for those already familiar with neuroplasticity therapies who are looking for additional tools. It’s a wonderful book all around! Hanson’s books are extremely accessible and understandable no matter your familiarity with the concepts. He describes a technique for increasing your well-being which is very easy to use and implement, and he does a great job of explaining why and how it works. If you want a very easy, adaptable, non-time-consuming technique for being happier, this is the book for you.
My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor (DB67075, BKS, commercial audio)
This is a moving and fascinating tale of a brain scientist who suffers a major stroke in her left hemisphere and recovers completely. The author is able to describe with amazing detail what was happening in her body and mind as blood overtook half her brain and then the steps she used to recover her physical and mental functioning during the eight years after. It is an inspiring read for those who are also working on recovering brain function. It’s also a wonderful inquiry into the biology of spirituality.
Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, by Rick Hanson, PhD (Kindle, commercial audio, Audible)
I really like the way Hanson writes. His books are so friendly. An engaging and accessible book combining neuroscience, psychology, and contemplative practice. Provides information about how and why meditation is effective for supporting health. Although a lot of the content in this book may be most obvious to those who have some familiarity with Buddhism, it is easily understood and supportive of all contemplative practices and religions.
Train your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves, by Sharon Begley, (BKS, Kindle, commercial audio, Audible)
Begley is a science writer who was one of the invitees to a conference on neuroplasticity organized by the Dalai Lama and held at his home in exile. Invited to the conference were a few, select Buddhist monks and a few, select Western scientists. This was one of the Dalai Lama’s annual neuroscience conventions, organized by the Mind and Life Institute (“Building a scientific understanding of the mind to reduce suffering and promote well-being”). Begley’s book is a fascinating recap of the presentations by the scientists as well as an explanation of why neuroplasticity and Buddhism are so often linked — because an essential practice of Buddhism, meditation, is the spiritual practice of training the mind. The concept of neuroplasticity is central to Buddhism, even though the term and concept is new to Western science. This is a well-written book with an intriguing cast of characters and excellent descriptions of various neuroplastic research studies and findings.
Other Neuroplasticity Books
I have not read the books below, but they were all recommended to me by various people, and since they are all available in some alternative formats, I thought they might be worth sharing.
- Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, Daniel G. Amen DB71340, BKS
- The Emotional Life of Your Brain, Richard Davidson, Sharon Begley, DB74255
- The Biology of Belief, Bruce Lipton, BKS
- Molecules of Emotion, Candace Pert, BKS
- Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life, John B Arden, BKS
- The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force, Jeffrey M Schwartz and Sharon Begley, BKS