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The Brain That Changes Itself
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The Brain That Changes Itself

“The Brain that Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge, M.D. is a book that can be debated as to whether it should be found under the heading of Science or Self-help. Although primarily a book of case studies, there is so much information about how our brains operate, and what we might do to strengthen them.

Until recently, even brain specialist believe that the brain ‘matured’ into a permanent adult state, much like the majority of the rest of our bodies. However, through advancing technology, the decade of the 90s proved worthy of its nickname; the decade of the brain.

For four hundred years, since the investigation of the human brain began, the lifetime of the brain was basically divided into three stages: the childhood learning stage, until about the age of twenty, where the adult utility stage begins, and finally as old age happens, the inevitable decline of the mental functions.

As well, it was firmly believed the brain could not repair damage nor replace neurons, and therefore any brain damage would be considered a lifelong, hopeless affliction. Stroke, dementia, and brain injury more often than not brought with them sometimes devastating consequences to a person who would be considered otherwise normal and healthy.

Unfortunately, this ‘common’ scientific knowledge bled into the cultural attitudes towards sufferers of brain damage or unusual development in a way that perpetuated the ‘logical’ conclusion of brain rigidity after the growth stage of childhood.

These attitudes were based on three considerations: that rarely did brain damage patients make any real recoveries, that there was no plausible way to adequately observe the living brain’s activities, and that the belief that the brain was akin to an unchanging machine.

However, whereas a machine is permanently ‘hardwired’ in a certain fashion, it is being discovered that the brain is more like a nest of self-correcting ivy lines. The term “neuroplasticity” was realized, coming from the terms “neuro” referring to the neurons that make up our brains, and “plastic” meaning “changeable, modifiable”, in the way plasticine is malleable.

The last few years has shown remarkable advancements in our understanding of how the human brain is adaptable and innovative in its approach to working around problems within its own structure and function.

In “The Brain that Changes Itself”, Dr. Norman Doidge, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and best-selling author demonstrates, through narrative case studies, the remarkable applications neuroplasticity is proving to have.

In the easily read book, you will see how neuroplasticity has proven:

  • The brain can reorganize itself to utilize other areas when one is damaged.
  • Children are not always 'condemned' to be stuck with the mental disabilities they're born with.
  • Some brain cells can be replaced
  • Even basic reflexes are not necessarily 'hardwired', but can be changed.
  • Thinking, learning, and acting can switch genes on and off, thus rearranging our brain anatomy and ultimately our behaviour.

In this extraordinary book, you will bear witness to the advancing science that can:

  • Give sight to those who have been blind since birth
  • Allow the deaf to hear for the first time
  • Help stroke victims recover practically all motor and language skills despite the length of time since their affliction
  • Raise the IQ of those with seemingly ‘unavoidable’ mental disabilities.
  • Sharpen the minds of the elderly, bringing them back to normal brain function and awareness.
  • Relieve the obsessions and traumas of ‘incurable’ sufferers.

This book may be one of the best ‘first’ steps towards the everyday person understanding how our brains actually work, how the brain changes itself, and the suggestions within can give hope and/or enlightenment to those interested in bettering themselves, mentally, and ultimately, entirely.

Street Talk

The brain is definitely unique and I'm sure we haven't even scratched the surface as to knowing how this magnificent organ works. I've heard that we only use a fraction of the full potential of our minds. Much more to come in this area of study, I'm sure.

  about 9 years ago
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