Understanding Neuroplasticity is Today’s Moral Imperative:
5 MUST-Read Books for 2018
We are the most nurture-dependent species that has ever existed on the planet.
This means that our brains are not just hardwired from birth. They are literally, physically, neurologically, moment-by-moment, formed and built by our experiences.
The more we learn about the brain’s plasticity, the less society can let themselves off the hook for not ensuring the safety and nurturing of our young.
We must stop acting as though behavior problems and mental illness are things that occur in isolation. We are social animals and what happens to us socially affects our brains, minds and bodies.
We all play a role in how we are shaping each other’s brain architecture: parents to children, teachers to students, leaders to employees and vice versa.
Agency is the belief that we have what it takes to change, to grow, evolve and ‘figure things out’. Understanding the malleability of our brain increases our sense of agency – not just as individuals, but who we are as a society and as a species.
If you are an educator, social worker, parent or leader, please make 2018 a year where you learn more about neuroplasticity, the effects of trauma and adversity, and the influences of early childhood experience on our brain’s architecture.
“Our great challenge is to apply the lessons of neural plasticity, the flexibility of brain circuits, to rewire the brains and re-organize the minds of people who have been programmed by life itself to experience others as threats and themselves as helpless.”
– Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D., The Body Keeps the Score
Here are five of my MUST-READ books to get you started:
Neuroplasticity (2016) by Moheb Costandi, Molecular and Developmental Neurobiologist, turned science writer. MIT Press 2016
The Pocket Guide to the PolyVagal Theory: The transformative power of feeling safe, (2017) by Stephen Porges, distinguished University Scientist at the Kinsey Institute.
Behave: The Biology of Humans at their Best and Worst, (2017) by Robert Sapolsky, professor of biology, neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University.
The Body Keeps the Score (2014), by Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD, former Harvard Medical School professor of psychiatry, Founder and Medical Director of the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute.
The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World (2011), by David Deutsch, physicist at the University of Oxford, visiting professor in the Department of Atomic and Laser Physics at the Centre for Quantum Computation (CQC) in the Clarendon Laboratory of the University of Oxford.
I’m sneaking in 3 more book suggestions specifically for educators, parents and anyone involved in teaching the next generation (because sometimes growth mindset won’t accomplish what we hope if we’re teaching kids unhelpful things in unhelpful ways)
Why Our Children Can’t Read, by Diane McGuiness, PhD, foreword by Steven Pinker
Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain, by Dana Suskind, MD
Navigating the Social World: What Infants, Children, and Other Species Can Teach Us, Edited by MahzarinR. Banaji & Susan A. Gelman (part of the Oxford Series in Social Cognition and Social Neuroscience)