The brain is an amazing instrument. It’s widely accepted that it can become more amazing, adapting and evolving as it is exposed to new situations. It’s called neuroplasticity and is a process of physical adaptation. Seizing on this, there’s been a growing trend for brain training games, activities and apps that promise to make us smarter, happier and better people. In Override: my quest to go beyond brain training and take control of my mind Caroline Williams documents her quest to see if it is really possible.
Over the course of numerous brain experiments with top neuroscientists and researchers, she submits herself to be the guinea pig in everything from high-tech brain stimulation to meditation, by way of attention exercises and MRI scans. Conscious of her tendency to be over anxious and distracted, she tries to see if she can shift these character traits, as well as exploring whether brain training can have an impact on intelligence, creativity and the perception of time.
The book is full of fascinating facts, all of which are made accessible and explained in context. But as to whether we can take control of our own minds – the jury’s still out. Williams says that the experiments allowed her to ‘tweak’ her brain to get it into better shape for her life today, taking into account her genetics and past experiences. Some of the brain training seemed to have worked. Neuroscience evolves quickly but has yet to find conclusive answers, but she writes that ‘what I can tell you for sure is that the human brain is an amazing thing with which to play with.’ Whatever the evidence, it seems like there’s no harm in trying.