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Restak, Richard M. 1942–

Restak, Richard M. 1942–

(Richard Martin Restak)

PERSONAL:

Born February 4, 1942, in Wilmington, DE; son of Lewis J. (a physician) and Alice Restak; married Carolyn Serbent, October 12, 1968; children: Jennifer, Alison, Ann. Education: Gettysburg College, A.B., 1962; Georgetown University, M.D., 1966. Hobbies and other interests: English literature.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Washington, DC. Office—1800 R St., NW, Ste. C3, Washington, DC 20009. Agent—Sterling Lord Agency, Inc., 660 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10021. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Psychiatrist and educator. Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, NY, resident in psychiatry, 1967-68; Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC, resident in psychiatry, 1968-69; George Washington University Hospital, Washington, DC, resident in neurology, 1970-73. Private practices in Washington, DC, in psychiatry, 1969-70, and in neurology and neuropsychiatry, 1973—. Georgetown University, Washington, DC, 1975—, began as clinical instructor, became clinical associate professor of neurology and director of Adult Neurobehavioral Center; member of clinical faculty, St. Elizabeth's Hospital. Visiting lecturer at numerous colleges and universities, including Kenyon College, Ohio State University, Wright State University, National War College, University of Maryland, and Loyola University of Chicago, and at various governmental agencies, including Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Administration, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Consultant to Council for Science and Society (London, England), Kennedy Institute for the Study of Reproduction and Bioethics, and Tokyo Broadcast System. Member of board of directors, Institute for Psychiatry and Foreign Affairs, 1984-87. Guest on radio and television programs, including MacNeil-Lehrer Report, Larry King Show, Good Morning, America, Today, and Merv Griffin Show.

MEMBER:

International Neuropsychological Society, International Platform Association, Royal Society of Medicine (London, England), Medicinae and Psychiatriae Foundation, Academia, American Academy of Neurology, American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, American Psychiatric Association, American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology, American Neuropsychiatric Association, Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease, Behavioral Neurology Society, Semiotic Society of America, National Book Critics' Circle, Cosmos Club, New York Academy of Sciences, Philosophical Society of Washington, Georgetown Clinical Society, Reality Club, National Press Club, International Brotherhood of Magicians, Vineyard Haven Yacht Club.

AWARDS, HONORS:

National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, 1976; Claude Bernard Science Journalism Award, National Society for Medical Research, 1976; Distinguished Alumni Award, Gettysburg College, 1985; Book of the Year, category, Fore-Word, 2001, for The Secret Life of the Brain.

WRITINGS:

Premeditated Man: Bioethics and the Control of Future Human Life, Viking (New York, NY), 1975.

The Brain: The Last Frontier; Explorations of the Human Mind and Our Future, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1979.

The Self Seekers, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1982.

The Infant Mind, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1986.

(Guest editor, and contributor) The Psychiatric Clinics of North America: Neuropsychiatry, W.B. Saunders (Philadelphia, PA), 1986.

The Mind, Bantam (New York, NY), 1988.

The Brain Has a Mind of Its Own: Insights from a Practicing Neurologist, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 1991.

The Modular Brain: How New Discoveries in Neuroscience Are Answering Age-Old Questions about Memory, Free Will, Consciousness, and Personal Identity, Scribner (New York, NY), 1994.

Receptors, Bantam (New York, NY), 1994.

Brainscapes: An Introduction to What Neuroscience Has Learned about the Structure, Function, and Abilities of the Brain, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1995.

Older and Wiser: How to Maintain Peak Mental Ability for as Long as You Live, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1997.

Mysteries of the Mind, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2000.

(With David Grubin) The Secret Life of the Brain, Joseph Henry Press, 2001.

Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot: Unleashing Your Brain's Potential, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 2001.

The New Brain: How the Modern Age Is Rewiring Your Mind, Rodale Press (Emmaus, PA), 2003.

Poe's Heart and the Mountain Climber: Exploring the Effect of Anxiety on Our Brains and Our Culture, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 2004.

The Naked Brain: How the Emerging Neurosociety Is Changing How We Live, Work, and Love, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Also author, with David H. Freedman, of Brainmakers, 1994, and, with David Mahoney, of The Longevity Strategy: How to Live to 100 Using the Brain-Body Connection, 1998. Contributor to numerous books, including Who Controls the Controllers?, Allyn & Bacon (Newton, MA), 1975; Mind and Supermind, Holt (New York, NY), and The Shapes of Prose: A Rhetorical Reader for College Writing, Holt, 1976. Contributor of articles and reviews to professional journals and other periodicals, including Newsday, New York Times, New York Times Book Review, Psychology Today, Reader's Digest, Saturday Review, Science Digest, Sciences, Semiotica, Smithsonian, Washington Post Book World, Wilson Quarterly, and Zygon Journal of Religion and Science. Consultant to The Encyclopedia of Bioethics. Member of editorial board, Integrative Psychiatry: An International Journal for the Synthesis of Medicine and Psychiatry, 1986.

SIDELIGHTS:

Richard M. Restak "is a practicing neurologist who believes that science is too serious a business to be left to the scientists," wrote Gerald Jones in the New York Times Book Review about Restak's first book, Premeditated Man: Bioethics and the Control of Future Human Life. Concerned with the philosophical aspects of scientific research, Restak surveys the laboratories and journals of behavior modification, genetic engineering, and psychosurgery and finds scientists remiss in considering the social implications of their work. "Restak argues that the decisions should not be left, as they usually are today, in the hands of some anonymous scientific-industrial elite (with the rest of us finding out about disasters only after the fact, as in the thalidomide case)," wrote Jonas. The questions Restak raises in Premeditated Man are basically ideological, observed Maya Pines in the Washington Post Book World. "They affect not only our health but the length and quality of our lives—and these are matters over which we should have far more control."

Restak's best-selling and critically well-received The Brain: The Last Frontier; Explorations of the Human Mind and Our Future was written to accompany a successful Public Broadcasting System television series on that subject. "It is rich in imagination and filled with lore about the brain as well as details about the history of brain research and up-to-date scientific insights into the brain's function," wrote Harold M. Schmeck, Jr., in the New York Times Book Review. Although Israel Rosenfield concurred in the New York Review of Books that Restak "presents many interesting findings," he suggested that Restak's "philosophical comments are unhelpful." However, finding the book "most engaging … and pretty respectable from a scientific standpoint," David Graber concluded in the Los Angeles Times BookReview: The Brain "is excellent popular science: It's fun to read, high in information content, scientifically honest and should have broad appeal."

Regarding Restak's The Self Seekers, Joe Ashcroft wrote in Best Sellers that this work "attempts to explore questions not usually considered within the realm of neurology." The book deals with what Restak perceives as the range of narcissism inherent in humanity and its behavioral manifestations. According to Bruce Mazlish in the Washington Post Book World, "a merit of Restak's book is that he documents the line leading from normal to disturbed narcissism, and then to the borderline condition, and over it to psychotic behavior." Paul Robinson stated in Psychology Today, however, that while "it is not a work of serious scholarship or reflection, … the book makes for diverting reading." Similarly, Ashcroft suggested that while The Self Seekers contains "a number of interesting case studies … [it] seems destined more for the ‘pop’ psychology bookshelf than for a graduate class reading list." Mazlish, who considered the book "depressing but very informative," added that "Restak nevertheless offers as good or better a presentation of object relations and narcissistic theory for the general reader as one can find."

More recently, Restak studied the fetal and infant brain and he drew evidence from such fields as genetics, embryology, neuroanatomy, and pathology for his book The Infant Mind. According to Amy Edith Johnson in the New York Times Book Review, Restak "vividly if haphazardly documents his point that the baby's brain, no mere miniature, immature version of a grownup's, is ideally suited to the complex and surprisingly active state of being a baby."

In Receptors, Restak takes a look at advances in the understanding of brain chemistry and the use of drugs that alter the brain's chemical processes. He makes extensive use of studies on the use of hallucinogenic plants and addictive drugs, and discusses the ethics of tailoring an individual's personality through the use of mind-altering substances. "Restak frequently makes the point that the brain functions and must be thought of as a whole," commented William Beatty in Booklist. "He lays clear groundwork for his technical subject with a discussion of the three levels of the brain and its fundamental physiology," Beatty adds.

"Few issues these days are as politicized, emotionally charged and misunderstood as the effects of drugs on individuals and society," remarked Matthew Belmonte in Insight on the News. Some writers are tempted or even morally compelled to promote a political argument in such a discussion. While Restak shies away from politics, he does assert that "blanket prohibition of mind-altering drugs won't work; nor will efforts to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ drugs." As Belmonte stated, Restak is "excited by the successes of neuropsychopharmacology and remains upbeat about its future. He writes of coming remedies not only for pathological states, but also for everyday shortcomings." A Publishers Weekly reviewer credited Restak with providing "a lucid, balanced and helpful history of the steps leading us to this new frontier."

Restak addressed issues of the brain and aging in Older and Wiser: How to Maintain Peak Mental Ability for as Long as You Live and The Longevity Strategy: How to Live to 100 Using the Brain-Body Connection. In Older and Wiser, he explains the function of the brain and the effects of exercise, drugs, depression, loneliness, and strokes on the body's command center. "This substantive, upbeat guide takes some of the edge off aging," stated a Publishers Weekly writer. In The Longevity Strategy, Restak and coauthor David Mahoney offer thirty-one tips on living long and well, with sections on diet, physical fitness, exercising mental functions, and brain health.

In a more recent book on this subject, Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot: Unleashing Your Brain's Potential, Restak argues that the brain itself does not age. But it does need to be kept in shape or synaptic links will shrink and eventually cause diminished cognitive capacity. The key to maintaining optimal brain function, he writes, is to keep exercising the brain throughout life through physical and mental activities that increase synaptic linkages. As Restak shows, mentally challenging activities—such as a number sequencing game designed to improve attentiveness of fighter pilots—are crucial to keeping the brain fit. Among his recommendations are practicing simple mind games and memory games, playing a musical instrument, playing chess, keeping a journal, reading a wide variety of stimulating material, and avoiding television. Reviewers considered the book an accessible and informative guide. Jane E. Brody, in a New York Times review, described Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot as a "thoughtful" book that could act as a personal trainer for the brain. Noting the book's wide range of references, from literature and science to games and cryptology, a contributor to Publishers Weekly deemed Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot an "unusual, intriguing" work.

Restak looks at how new technologies affect neurological research, and may perhaps affect the brain itself, in The New Brain: How the Modern Age Is Rewiring Your Mind. He explains how MRI and other technologies are giving researchers far better tools for studying the brain than were formerly possible, but also warns that new information can lead to unwanted controls (such as controversial drug therapies). Restak argues that exposure to violent images on television affects the brain and makes viewers more likely to become violent—a point that a Publishers Weekly contributor considered sure to provoke argument.

Poe's Heart and the Mountain Climber: Exploring the Effect of Anxiety on Our Brains and Our Culture looks at the prevalence of anxiety in modern life. As Restak explains in his book, anxiety differs from fear, which is an emotion based on an actual, external threat to one's safety. Anxiety, by contrast, is a feeling of tension or dread that is not based on a specific danger but comes from within. Using data from recent research on animals and human subjects, Restak shows how neural circuits create fear and anxiety and why these emotions are important to human survival. He also points out that the pressures of modern life, including the ever-escalating bombardment of media images, can overstimulate the areas of the brain that govern emotions and lead to excessive amounts of anxiety. "Restak exudes empathy," wrote Gilbert Taylor in his Booklist assessment of Poe's Heart and the Mountain Climber. The reviewer appreciated the book's coverage of various clinical diagnoses and of new pharmacological treatments for anxiety disorders, and concluded that Restak offers sensible advice about how to cope with anxiety.

Whereas traditional neuroscience has studied the brain in isolation from cultural and psychological surroundings, social neuroscience seeks to explain human behavior and emotions by studying both biological and social factors. Recent findings in this field, as Restak explains in The Naked Brain: How the Emerging Neurosociety Is Changing How We Live, Work, and Love, show that brain functions can change depending on social context. "Much of this research," a Publishers Weekly reviewer pointed out, "indicates that we're hard-wired to relate to other people." For example, the brain becomes more active and careful about analyzing data when it is given negative information; it also tends to believe information that is repeated frequently. "Mirror neurons" cause us to copy the facial expressions or actions of people we are watching. Love, too, changes the brain—after a romantic break-up, for example, we miss the ex-lover because thinking of him or her stimulates regions of the brain that control both pleasure and addiction. Restak writes that people can use this knowledge to deal more effectively with challenging social situations and to resist what he terms "manipulation" by advertisements, popular culture, and political slogans and soundbytes.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Best Sellers, September, 1982, Joe Ashcroft, review of The Self Seekers.

Booklist, December 1, 1975, review of Premeditated Man: Bioethics and the Control of Future Human Life, p. 479; November 1, 1979, review of The Brain: The Last Frontier; Explorations of the Human Mind and Our Future, p. 416; September 15, 1984, review of The Brain, p. 91; November 1, 1986, review of The Infant Mind, p. 372; October 1, 1988, review of The Mind, p. 185; October 15, 1991, review of The Brain Has a Mind of Its Own: Insights from a Practicing Neurologist, p. 421; February 15, 1994, review of Receptors, pp. 1045; 1067; July, 1994, William Beatty, review of The Modular Brain: How New Discoveries in Neuroscience Are Answering Age-Old Questions about Memory, Free Will, Consciousness, and Personal Identity, p. 1896; October 1, 1995, William Beatty, review of Brainscapes: An Introduction to What Neuroscience Has Learned about the Structure, Function, and Abilities of the Brain, p. 241, 257; December 1, 1995, Donna Seaman, reviews of Brainscapes, Receptors, The Brain Has a Mind of Its Own, and The Modular Brain: How New Discoveries in Neuroscience Are Answering Age-Old Questions about Memory, Free Will, Consciousness, and Personal Identity, p. 599; September 1, 1997, William Beatty, review of Older and Wiser: How to Maintain Peak Mental Ability for as Long as You Live, p. 9; March 1, 1998, Ray Olson, review of The Longevity Strategy: How to Live to 100 Using the Brain-Body Connection, p. 1081; November 15, 2001, Mary Carroll, review of Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot: Unleashing Your Brain's Potential, p. 532; October 1, 2004, Gilbert Taylor, review of Poe's Heart and the Mountain Climber: Exploring the Effect of Anxiety on Our Brains and Our Culture, p. 284.

Bookwatch, June 1, 1991, review of The Brain, p. 7; November 1, 1996, review of Brainscapes, p. 3; January 1, 2004, James A. Cox and Diane C. Donovan, review of The New Brain, p. 1.

Choice, January 1, 1980, review of The Brain, p. 1468; March 1, 1983, review of The Brain, p. 946; March 1, 1985, review of The Brain, p. 952; November, 1995, reviews of The Brain and The Mind, p. 411.

Futurist, March-April, 2005, "The Attention-Deficit Workplace," p. 13, and review of The New Brain, p. 61.

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), November 25, 2000, review of Mysteries of the Mind, p. D55.

Insight on the News, June 13, 1994, Matthew Belmonte, review of Receptors, p. 29.

Journal of the American Medical Association, March 18, 1992, Charles M. Poser, review of The Brain Has a Mind of Its Own, p. 1541.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 1979, review of The Brain, p. 624; April 15, 1982, review of The Self Seekers, p. 542; August 15, 1984, review of The Brain, p. 800; November 1, 1986, review of The Infant Mind, p. 1640; August 15, 1988, review of The Mind, p. 1224; September 1, 1991, review of The Brain Has a Mind of Its Own, p. 1147; February 1, 1994, review of Receptors, p. 128; June 1, 1994, review of The Modular Brain, p. 759; August 15, 1995, review of Brainscapes, p. 1171; September 1, 2004, review of Poe's Heart and the Mountain Climber, p. 854; August 1, 2006, review of The Naked Brain, p. 771.

Kliatt, July, 1995, review of Receptors, p. 33.

Library Journal, March 1, 1976, review of Premeditated Man, p. 665; July 1, 1979, review of The Brain, p. 1470; March 1, 1980, review of The Brain, p. 570; June 1, 1982, review of The Self Seekers, p. 1102; March 1, 1985, Edith S. Crockett and Ellis Mount, review of The Brain, p. 37; November 15, 1986, Jodith Janes, review of The Infant Mind, p. 102; November 1, 1988, Marguerite Mroz, review of The Mind, p. 99; March 1, 1989, Ellis Mount and Barbara A. List, review of The Mind, p. 44; September 1, 1991, Laurie Bartolini, review of The Brain Has a Mind of Its Own, p. 224; July, 1994, review of The Modular Brain, p. 115; September 15, 1995, Laurie Bartolini, review of Brainscapes, p. 90; August, 1997, Laurie Bartolini, review of Older and Wiser, p. 119; October 1, 2001, Laurie Bartolini, review of Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot, p. 137; July 1, 2006, Victoria Shelton review of The Naked Brain, p. 105.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, December 2, 1984, David Graber, review of The Brain, p. 6; May 12, 1991, review of The Brain, p. 14.

Modern Language Journal, summer, 1983, review of The Brain, p. 171.

Mother Jones, March-April, 2007, Dennis Cass, "Brain Teasers," p. 79.

Natural History, February 1, 2002, review of The Secret Life of the Brain, p. 76.

Nature, December 1, 1988, Geoffrey Hall, review of The Mind, p. 431.

New Republic, November 24, 1979, Peter Sterling, review of The Brain, p. 38.

New York Review of Books, March 14, 1985, review of The Brain, p. 34.

New York Times, January 8, 2002, Jane E. Brody, "Now, a Personal Trainer for Your Brain," p. D8.

New York Times Book Review, November 16, 1975, Gerald Jones, review of Premeditated Man, p. 6; November 25, 1984, Harold M. Schmeck, Jr., review of The Brain, p. 27; November 30, 1986, Amy Edith Johnson, review of The Infant Mind, p. 30; January 1, 1989, Timothy Bay, review of The Mind, p. 15; January 12, 1992, June Kinoshita, review of The Brain Has a Mind of Its Own, p. 14; September 11, 1994, review of The Modular Brain, p. 38.

Psychology Today, May 1, 1979, Howard Gardner, "The Brain, the Last Frontier," p. 131; December 1, 1979, review of The Brain, p. 110; September 1, 1982, Paul Robinson, review of The Self Seekers, p. 70; April 1, 1985, M.S. Kaplan, review of The Brain, p. 80; January-February, 2005, review of Poe's Heart and the Mountain Climber, p. 36.

Publishers Weekly, April 9, 1979, review of The Brain, p. 105; May 23, 1982, review of The Brain, p. 75; April 30, 1982, review of The Self Seekers, p. 51; September 20, 1991, review of The Brain Has a Mind of Its Own, p. 115; June 13, 1994, review of The Modular Brain, p. 56; September 9, 1996, review of Brainscapes, p. 81; October 22, 2001, review of Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot, p. 66; October 18, 2004, review of Poe's Heart and the Mountain Climber, p. 57; June 19, 2006, review of The Naked Brain, p. 52.

Quarterly Review of Biology, September 1, 1996, David L. Wilson, review of Brainscapes, p. 398; December 1, 1998, Donna J. Holmes, review of Older and Wiser, p. 486.

Quill & Quire, February, 1987, review of The Infant Mind, p. 21; August, 1991, review of The Brain Has a Mind of Its Own, p. 18.

Science, January 11, 2002, review of The Secret Life of the Brain, p. 282.

Science News, September 27, 2003, review of The New Brain, p. 207; January 1, 2005, review of The New Brain, p. 15.

Science Teacher, January 1, 1998, Eloise Farmer, review of Older and Wiser, p. 77.

School Library Journal, March 1, 1985, Rebecca J. Kleppe, review of The Brain, p. 187.

Scientific American, January 2, 2004, Chris Jozefowicz, "A Kick in the Head," p. 98.

Times Higher Education Supplement, August 17, 2001, Keith Sutherland, review of Mysteries of the Mind, p. 26.

Wall Street Journal, December 18, 1984, review of The Brain, p. 32.

Washington Post Book World, March 14, 1976, Maya Pines, review of Premeditated Man, p. 7; June 20, 1982, Bruce Mazlish, review of The Self Seekers, p. 3; November 17, 1991, review of The Brain Has a Mind of Its Own, p. 13; April 24, 1994, review of Receptors, p. 8.

Wilson Quarterly, winter, 1991, review of The Brain, p. 94.

ONLINE

Richard M. Restak Home Page,http://www.richardrestak.com (May 8, 2007).

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