ATD Blog

Summer Reading: Build Some New Neural Pathways

Friday, August 23, 2013

Through neuroscience, we’ve discovered that the brain is always changing. This state of constant transformation is called neural plasticity. But even our hard-working, ever-changing brain needs a vacation now and then. Research has discovered that people who go on a vacation to another location benefit from increased productivity and creativity upon their return. But vacation doesn’t have to mean that you stop learning and growing. In fact, when you are otherwise unplugged from your usual routine, your brain will have time to revisit all the new information you’ve been pumping into your head for the past year. Cycling over new and older neural connections, your brain may find entirely new connections that did not exist before. I suggest that you take a little time on your next vacation to learn about neuroscience, not because you “have to,” but because you “want to.” The difference between reading for work and reading for pure pleasure is significant. A recent study shows that we often remember more of what we read for pleasure than what we are “assigned” to read for work or school.


Neuroscience for Dummies, Frank Amthor

Computational Cognitive Neuroscience, Michael Frank, Yuko Manakata, Thomas Hazy, Randall O’Reilly

Introduction to the Math of Neural Networks, Jeff Heaton

Brains: How they Seem to Work, Dale Purves

Websites and blogs:


ASTD Human Capital Blog: I am honored to be part of this vibrant community of scholar-practitioners.

Sharp Brains: Tracking Health and Wellness Applications of Brain Science

Brains: The Smithsonian page, “What does it mean to be human?”

Center for Cognitive Neuroscience: Penn State’s multidisciplinary community dedicated to understanding the neural bases of human thought.

Genes to Cognition Online: Focuses on cognitive disorders, the cognitive process, and research.


Hacking Knowledge: Ways to learn faster, better, cheaper.

Psychology Today: Peer-reviewed articles on human behavior. Ideas worth spreading.

Eyewire: Help us map the brain and have fun, too.

Contact Margie on LinkedIn at

For more on neuroscience applications for human capital, check out the full blog series here.

About the Author

Margie Meacham, “The Brain Lady,” is a scholar-practitioner in the field of education and learning and president of LearningToGo. She specializes in practical applications for neuroscience to enhance learning and performance. Meacham’s clients include businesses, schools, and universities. She writes a popular blog for the Association of Talent Development and has published two books, Brain Matters: How to Help Anyone Learn Anything Using Neuroscience and The Genius Button: Using Neuroscience to Bring Out Your Inner Genius.

She first became interested in the brain when she went with undiagnosed dyslexia as a child. Although she struggled in the early grades, she eventually taught herself how to overcome the challenge of a slight learning disability and became her high school valedictorian, graduated magna cum laude from Centenary University, and earned her master’s degree in education from Capella University with a 4.0.

Meacham started her professional career in high-tech sales, and when she was promoted to director of training, she discovered her passion for teaching and helping people learn. She became one of the first corporate trainers to use video conferencing and e-learning and started her own consulting company from there. Today she consults for many organizations, helping them design learning experiences that will form new neural connections and marry neuroscience theory with practice.

“I believe we are on the verge of so many wonderful discoveries about how we learn. Understanding what happens in the brain is making us better leaders, teachers, parents, and employees. We have no limits to what we can accomplish with our wonderful brains— the best survival machines ever built.”
—Margie Meacham

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