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Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain: The New Science of Optimism and Pessimism Paperback – 6 Jun 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (6 Jun. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099547554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099547556
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 244,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elaine Fox is Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford, where she directs the Oxford Centre for Emotions & Affective Neuroscience (OCEAN). She was awarded a prestigious ERC Advanced Investigator fellowship in 2013 to set up a large study in Oxford investigating why some people are emotionally vulnerable (to anxiety, depression, & addictions) while others are resilient. She is also a writer and speaker with a passion for engaging everyone with the science behind how our mind works. "RAINY BRAIN SUNNY BRAIN" is her first book for a general audience describing the fascinating science and stories behind why some of us are optimistic and resilient while others take a pessimistic slant on things. An earlier academic text book "EMOTION SCIENCE" was shortlisted for the 2011 BPS "Book of the Year" award. She lives in the Cotswolds near Oxford.

Product Description

Review

"Every day I send my kids out the door to school with this admonition, ‘you can choose to be happy.’ More often than not, they roll their eyes, but in Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain Elaine Fox (no relation) offers a scientific argument for my contention. After much research, and in comprehensive, but comprehensible detail, Professor Fox provides a mental map to the sunny side of the street. For optimists and pessimists alike, this fascinating book is a must read." (Michael J. Fox)

"'Every experience you have, from the most trivial to the most significant, alters the brain. Elaine Fox offers scientifically based advice about how to make the most of this, how to be in charge of changing your brain for the better." (Joseph LeDoux, author of The Emotional Brain and Synaptic Self)

"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 and those associated with pleasure and optimism…. Fox introduces readers to many new concepts from experimental psychology and recent research on neuroplasticity and neurogenesis…. [A] welcome, if intellectually demanding, introduction to a key area of brain research." (Publishers Weekly)

"A psychologist looks at the influence that outlook – a tendency toward optimism or pessimism – can play in shaping the events in our lives…. An insightful addition to the self-help bookshelf." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Fox constructs an elegant narrative from neuroimaging results, her clever psychology experiments, and the interaction of genetics and environment." (Steven Poole Guardian)

Book Description

Why some of us are optimists, and others pessimists - and what we can do about it

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Nazanin Derakhshan on 3 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
To be in a positive state of mind and to be hopeful are essential to our well-being, but it can sometimes feel difficult to achieve these states especially when confronted with challenging and unfortunate life events that need our immediate attention. In this book, Elaine Fox argues that by getting involved in rewarding activities (no matter how small or big) that impact our lives in personally meaningful ways, we can boost and encourage an optimistic outlook on life that can in turn enable us to achieve our goals more efficiently. Elaine discusses classical as well as state of the art evidence from psychology and neuroscience research that has taken us further in understanding how our brains interact with the environment, and how these interactions are influenced by evolutionary pressures, our personality traits, genetic make-up, and past life events. Most remarkably the book discusses new and exciting evidence on how our brains have the most amazing capacity to be retrained, through new and healthy experiences, to deal more effectively with anxiety and depression, and enhance our well-being and resilience to stress. The book explains how our brains are constantly changing and responding to positive experiences and information, no matter how young or old we are, and it is this remarkable plasticity that can shape and strengthen the neural pathways of our sunny brains in coping with distressing thoughts and feelings.

Once you start reading this book you will find it difficult to stop. The book takes you through an adventurous and exciting journey that you will find yourselves wanting to know more with every new chapter. The author's style is contagiously engaging and the research evidence is discussed in a most accessible and approachable manner without reverting to simplification.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By maddy on 3 Nov. 2012
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This is an excellent popular science book. The author is a psychologist and neuroscientist and presents the latest in genetics, psychology and brain science in a highly accessible way. Using the technique of giving lots of anecdotes and stories alongside well explained studies, the reasons why we differ from each other becomes clear. The author argues that at the root of pessimism lies our "fear" brain, while at the root of "optimism" lies our pleasure brain. There is a fantastic description of how our genetic make-up and our environment work together to make us who we are. The book takes you through a journey of modern day science with lots of literary and personal references thrown in for good measure. It's a highly entertaining and informative book. I really enjoyed the easy writing style and highly recommend it. On top of the good science writing the last chapter also gives lots of self-help tips on how we can change our pessimistic mindset into a more optimistic one. In other words, how we can make our rainy brain a bit sunnier. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By BertieBoo on 1 Oct. 2013
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This book is not so much of a self-help book, although you will learn how to do this in a small way. It offers more of a wide understanding of the how and why of feelings.
You will need to supplement it with something else if you want a true self-help book. Also, bear in mind that despite what is written here, the full workings of the brain and its parts is still incomplete and it is a pity that scientists don't get together to offer a fuller picture of their individual findings. Still, this is a good read and helps a lot in seeing where you are currently and how you might want to go about instigating change.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jake2220 on 13 July 2013
Format: Paperback
If you want evidence based stratigies to change your life look no further. professor elaine fox is the real deal who conducts research into the science of optimism and pessimism. this book is one you will refer to time and again as you make your way through the predictable slings and arrows of life. postive action not postive thinking is the forumla and she has a great webpage with the same title as the book which has tests to help you in your quest for a happier life. go get it now!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hector on 11 Aug. 2013
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the title and presentation makes one fear this is too much a 'pop' book, but actually it is very science based. Whilst it covers some ground already covered in other books, it does build up to a very punchy final couple of chapters, particularly on how CBM (cognitive bias modification) can change deep underlying biases in thinking and attitudes. Breaks new ground even for someone who has read a great deal (including much research) on this area. Very highly recommended. the website is good too, and clicks through to some online CBM exercises.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ms. C. C. Nicholson on 2 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
I feel that this is one of those books that everyone should be made to read at an early age - it offers such an important insight into the way our brains work, especially when and why it's maladaptive. i was fascinated to learn about the underlying physiological pathways governing optimism and pessimism, but as someone with more than one person in the family struggling with depression, it was enormously encouraging to discover that they can change their outlook, and relatively simply, even if some of the 'brain-training' programmes aren't yet available to the public. (I hope they are soon!) I had always hoped there must be a another way of coping rather than just swallowing the seratonin inhibitors dished out by the GP. This book has helped me to understand what my family members experience, why their brains work differently to my own 'sunny' brain and how i can help them - or rather, what kind of help to seek and from whom. I highly recommend this book.
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