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Publisher's Summary

In Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot, eminent neuropsychiatrist and best-selling author Richard Restak, M.D., combines the latest research in neurology and psychology to show us how to get our brain up to speed for managing every aspect of our busy lives.

Everything we think and everything we choose to do alters our brain and fundamentally changes who we are, a process that continues until the end of our lives. Few people think of the brain as being susceptible to change in its actual structure, but in fact we can preselect the kind of brain we will have by continually exposing ourselves to rich and varied life experiences. Unlike other organs that eventually wear out with repeated and sustained use, the brain actually improves the more we challenge it.

Think of Restak as a personal trainer for your brain - he will help you assess your mental strengths and weaknesses, and set you to thinking about the world and the people around you in a new light, providing you with improved and varied skills and capabilities. From interacting with colleagues to recognizing your own psychological makeup, from understanding the way you see something to why you're looking at it in the first place, from explaining the cause of panic attacks to warding off performance anxiety, this book will tell you the whys and hows of the brain's workings.

Packed with practical advice and fascinating examples drawn from history, literature, and science, Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot provides 28 informative and realistic steps that we can all take to improve our brainpower.

Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot is also available in print from Harmony Books.

Executive Producer: Orli Moscowitz
Producer: David Rapkin
Lightly adapted for the audio format
Original jacket design: Whitney Cookman
Portrait of Mozart: Erich Lessing/ Art Resource, NY
©2001 Richard M. Restak, M.D.
(P)2002 Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Think of Mozart's Brain as an exercise video for one's mental faculties." (Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

Brain exercises for you

Yes it is a grab bag of many ideas that are how to get the most out of your brain. However, unlike many self help books, Dr Restak's suggestions are all based on scientific study of the brain and his personal practice. I personally tried some. They seem to work for me.

I subtracted one star because he provides MANY ideas on how to get your brain maximized but not how to get most or all his ideas into practice. I was overwhelmed with his MANY ideas and did not know how to get MOST into practice in my life. I had to develop my own plan of attack for getting some if not many of these great ideas incorporated in my life.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Daniel
  • Ithaca, NY, USA
  • 10-30-04

Overall, it was excellent...

I thought this was an excellent book. There was a lot of interesting material in it, and it provided a thought provoking look at how the brain works, how we can help the brain work at peak efficiency (i.e. get smarter), and suggestions of other books to read to learn more about the material.

The one major flaw that this book suffers from is that it is unabridged, and the narrator literally reads the exercises from the back of the chapters. This is great if you want to do the exercises to try to increase your brain's capacity to think, but it is annoying if you (like me) listen to the book while driving and just want to hear the author's thoughts on the inner workings of the brain. Audible doesn't provide convinient tract numbers to skip over the exercises either, so it becomes necessary to listen to them.

However, I suppose it is worth mentioning that many audiobooks leave out things like exercises, and that this can be annoying too. So it's a double edged sword: you get everything in the unabridged format. But, overall, the book is definitely worth the read...

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • George
  • Point Roberts, WA, USA
  • 01-06-03

Interesting stuff but limited

I enjoyed this book, though it would have been better in unabridged format. The many exercises simply don't suit themselves to audio book format. It's just too hard to concentrate on them when you're in traffic or doing your workout or whatever activity you're engaged in. You really need to view them on paper and work with them in more traditional ways. Without the exercises, this is still valuable material, if perhaps a little dry.

125 of 134 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot (unabridged)

I liked this book because it tells you simply how your brain works and the way to keep it working well, even with age, and how is it that one "forgets" things when you are "not supposed to", it is also good to help younger people learn and achieve letting them know they can get to where they want because it is their brain that will help and they can do it! just by thinking (well with work too)

33 of 36 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kris
  • 04-05-05

Stick with it.

I loved this book, it changed my mind about what is "boring". I'm begining to see the value, and joy of exercising my brain. I wouldn't have "gotten it" in small chunks. Listen to the whole thing in 1 or 2 sittings to get the most out of it. The references to other literary work opened some doors I didn't know needed to be opened, for me. I'm glad I got this book.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kim
  • Okotoks, AB, Canada
  • 10-01-03

More titles on the same aubject of neuroplasticity

As a researcher in the field of brain plasticity I found Restak's book refreshing and cleverly written. Bringing neuroscience can be a daunting task but Restak makes it sound so smooth!

20 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Fabio
  • Carlstadt, NJ, USA
  • 02-18-07

Falls short of expected

Mr. Restak's book is well written, and packed with information, but short of some good suggestions for the exploration of your brain, the book states what is either obvious or common knowledge for the past several years.
If you have never heard any information on how brains work, or how to stimulate and train them, you can get some good info out of this book. Otherwise, it simply restates current knowledge.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Dirk
  • mccook lake, sd
  • 02-05-05

Operations Manual for the Human Brain

For someone that does not study psychology, this is a very insightful book on how the brain works and how to make it better. The first part of the book is rather dry as the author explains the theory behind the applications. The book does help you to take care of your brain like an athlete would take care of his muscles. I bought the paperback, and as suggested by the author, read it along with the audio. The author shows how to adapt a brain designed to hunt and gather to a modern information society.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Too academic and monotonal

The author's techniques may exercise the brain, but this tape doesn't. The montone voice and the dry, academic writing style almost put me to sleep. I didn't get past the opening chapters on the neurochemistry of the brain.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Standard Self-help stuff

Interesting material about the brain. The approach is a bit bland and unoriginal: "By following these excersizes, you too, can become a mental giant!". A lot of time is spent going over techniques on memorization, writing in a journal, and mental excersizes; pretty much stuff that's in any other "increase your IQ in 21 days!" book. The idea of the brain as a machine, to be optimized to the nth degree, is a bit outdated. Great if you're into that kind of thing, but personally I found nothing truly insightful.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Paul
  • 04-19-06

Engaging and practical

I really enjoyed this title. It's written in an entertaining way with very useful and enjoyable excercises. All the info is well grounded in the latest brain science so it will be effective.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Alistair
  • 08-22-07

Good title - shame about the book

This book is long and boring with few take home messages. I would not recommend it.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Paul Hudson
  • 10-01-06

Meh, not impressed.

The title sounded interesting, but even if you crank up your iPod to 'Faster' playback mode it still comes across as slow-paced and largely dull. If the opening chapters don't put you off (they cover, in excruciating depth, all you didn't ever want to know about the biology of your brain), then the smack-in-the-face obvious 'tips' presented later certainly will. If you're looking for a book to challenge and surprise you, try 'Blink' or 'Freakonomics'. The only reason I'm keeping this thing on my iPod is because it's a dead-cert I will fall asleep while the author drones on about how many books he's written.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful