Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain: How to Retrain Your Brain to Overcome Pessimism and Achieve a More Positive Outlook

Elaine Fox, Author
Elaine Fox. Basic, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-465-01945-8
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4434-1142-4
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-434-02017-1
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-0-09-954755-6
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4090-2299-2
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-55468-684-1
Open Ebook - 273 pages - 978-0-465-02923-5
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Drawing on a host of studies in neurobiology and genetics, as well as evolutionary and behavioral psychology, Fox explores the struggle between the parts of the brain associated with fear and pessimism (the amygdala) and those associated with pleasure and optimism. Head of the Centre for Brain Science at the University of Essex, England, Fox introduces readers to many new concepts from experimental psychology and recent research on neuroplasticity and neurogenesis. To demonstrate how malleable the mind actually is, she describes an experiment where mice placed in a stimulating environment “grew about three times more cells in their hippocampus” than mice in an ordinary environment. Another experiment revealed that stimulating the prefrontal cortex (the brain’s control center) can restrain the amygdala’s transmission of fear and anxiety. However, only in a concluding chapter does Fox deal, all too cursorily, with the subject of her subtitle, noting how techniques like mindfulness training can produce positive changes in brain activity and also help strengthen the body’s immune system. Fox uses a few anecdotes to good effect, and her book, while occasionally dry, is a welcome, if intellectually demanding, introduction to a key area of brain research. 16 b&w illus. Agent: Patrick Walsh, Conville & Walsh. (June)
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