Hot Best Seller

The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science audiobook

Availability: Ready to download

An astonishing new science called neuroplasticity is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the human brain is immutable. Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Norman Doidge, M.D., traveled the country to meet both the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity and the people whose lives they've transformed people whose mental limitations or brain damage were seen as u An astonishing new science called neuroplasticity is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the human brain is immutable. Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Norman Doidge, M.D., traveled the country to meet both the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity and the people whose lives they've transformed people whose mental limitations or brain damage were seen as unalterable. We see a woman born with half a brain that rewired itself to work as a whole, blind people who learn to see, learning disorders cured, IQs raised, aging brains rejuvenated, stroke patients learning to speak, children with cerebral palsy learning to move with more grace, depression and anxiety disorders successfully treated, and lifelong character traits changed. Using these marvelous stories to probe mysteries of the body, emotion, love, sex, culture, and education, Dr. Doidge has written an immensely moving, inspiring book that will permanently alter the way we look at our brains, human nature, and human potential.


Compare

An astonishing new science called neuroplasticity is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the human brain is immutable. Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Norman Doidge, M.D., traveled the country to meet both the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity and the people whose lives they've transformed people whose mental limitations or brain damage were seen as u An astonishing new science called neuroplasticity is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the human brain is immutable. Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Norman Doidge, M.D., traveled the country to meet both the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity and the people whose lives they've transformed people whose mental limitations or brain damage were seen as unalterable. We see a woman born with half a brain that rewired itself to work as a whole, blind people who learn to see, learning disorders cured, IQs raised, aging brains rejuvenated, stroke patients learning to speak, children with cerebral palsy learning to move with more grace, depression and anxiety disorders successfully treated, and lifelong character traits changed. Using these marvelous stories to probe mysteries of the body, emotion, love, sex, culture, and education, Dr. Doidge has written an immensely moving, inspiring book that will permanently alter the way we look at our brains, human nature, and human potential.

30 review for The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science audiobook

  1. 5 out of 5

    Trevor (I no longer get notified of comments)

    When I saw this book initially I thought that I would have nothing but unequivocally good things to say about it. I am very fond of ‘brain’ books and prefer to believe that the mind is ‘plastic’ – that it can change itself or re-wire itself. I haven’t got much to pin this hope on. But hope is a good thing. However, in the end my response to this book has been much less black-and-white than I thought it would be. I’ve also just finished Fooled By Randomness. This has made me hypersensitive to any When I saw this book initially I thought that I would have nothing but unequivocally good things to say about it. I am very fond of ‘brain’ books and prefer to believe that the mind is ‘plastic’ – that it can change itself or re-wire itself. I haven’t got much to pin this hope on. But hope is a good thing. However, in the end my response to this book has been much less black-and-white than I thought it would be. I’ve also just finished Fooled By Randomness. This has made me hypersensitive to any possibility that I might be getting fooled by any statistical aberrations. And, potentially, I saw statistical aberrations everywhere in this book. So much so that I was going to stop reading it and move onto something else a few times. But then he quoted an Indian doctor about the importance of individual case studies and I could see what he was doing. My concern with statistically valid results started when he was talking about internet pornography changing the structure of people’s brains to such an extent that they were existing on 2 – 3 hours sleep a night. Now, admittedly, I can’t remember the last time I talked to one of my male friends about how long they spend looking at internet porn – but this seemed quite excessive. The message was that internet porn is addictive, degenerative and destroys relationships. I worried that this sounded somewhat prudish. But prim or not, this wasn’t my main concern. I was more worried that these conclusions seemed to be based on the occasional bloke who strolled into this doctor’s waiting room. It seemed to me a bit of a jump to go from this group of self-selected ‘pornography addicts’ to saying that internet pornography is fundamentally changing our brains and of necessity making us desire violence as our ‘normal’ erotic stimulant of choice. The good bits of this book, though, were very good. There was a fascinating discussion on phantom hands and legs that amputees often have and how the often agonising pains in these phantom limbs are ‘cured’, quite literally, by magic. The discussion on how the centres in the brain that had once been devoted to the phantom limb and were then used by other parts of the body (sometimes with near catastrophic consequences) was truly fascinating. As was the discussion of the woman born with only the right side of her brain. The story of the woman at the start who was 'constantly falling' - a bit like Alice getting to Wonderland - was also another of those horror stories, I initially worried this book might end up. But also a fascinating story, all the same. There is a long and involved discussion of psychoanalysis that I again found rather hard to take. Case studies in psychoanalysis too often sound to me like remarkably simple-minded critiques of fairly badly written short stories written by a writer who has gone through the Women’s Weekly Dictionary of Literary Symbols to construct the storyline. Perhaps not ever cigar ends up being a penis, but every box seems to end up a coffin. I just find myself shaking my head reading this stuff and wishing it was all over. One of the things that Fooled By Randomness said in passing that caught my attention was that there is a difference between behavioural psychology and evolutionary psychology – but for his purposes these differences weren’t very important. I’m not really much of one for psychology. It tends to be a subject people who have studied philosophy look down on rather unfairly. But this book stands quite opposed to – say – Steven Pinker’s various books on how our minds are made and work. Pinker is one of Noam Chomsky’s followers – at least in linguistics and in his oft repeated idea that we are not born with a mind that is a blank slate. I’ve said this before, and am going to say it again now; people often ask how Chomsky’s politics and linguistics fit together and to me they don’t fit at all. I would expect that someone with strong left-wing ideas would tend towards a belief that the oppressive structures that exist in society are able to be changed. This would seem to be undermined by ideas that – with Kant – say that many of our ‘faculties’ are innate or (in more up-to-date language) are genetically pre-programmed. But this does seem to be what Chomsky’s Linguistics implies – that we have evolved linguistic structures in the brain that allow the rapid and ‘effortless’ learning of language. This book quotes Edelman’s work – I once started his Bright Light, Brilliant Fire but found it remarkably hard going. Edelman had a Darwinian view of how the brain developed – a view I once heard Chomsky criticise. I didn’t understand why Chomsky was quite so worked up about it at the time, but after finishing this I’ve a better idea. One of the key ideas for Edelman is that the brain must be very plastic – because very, very many neurons die and they do so quite at random. So, evolution can’t rely on precise circuits being laid down by our genes alone. Rather, brains are plastic enough so that they can learn from their environment and then respond to that. But this is the point that both Pinker and Chomsky seem determined to criticise if not refute. There are many aspects of Pinker’s ideas that I particularly like. There are also many parts of this work that I find simple-minded and annoying. But, if you were to draw a line with Pinker on one end and this guy on the other, where would I put my cross? Closer to Pinker? I really couldn’t say. All the same, even if this guy is completely wrong, and we really can’t change brain structures once they have been laid down, it is probably better to believe he is right. His near constant message is, if you don’t use it you will lose it. He repeatedly points to experiments in which well exercised brains prove to be heavier and their neurons prove to be richer in interconnections – you can literally think yourself smarter. He claims using your brain and continuously learning is one of the best ways to avoid Alzheimer’s Disease – and I do think that is probably one disease well worth avoiding. So, would I recommend this book? It is hard to say. I wouldn’t say I learnt nothing from it – but there were things about it that annoyed me. As I said, when it was good, it was very, very good. It is just that there was this curl, right in the middle of its forehead and that was the problem.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    So far this book has taught me two things. 1. That I am far more affected than I expected to be by the phrase "sew a kitten's eyelid closed for three weeks..after which the kitten remained permanently blind in one eye." and 2. Using the word "till" instead of "until" is acceptable in scholarly writing. For the rest of the information, stay tuned. Okay, so I finished the book. It was a fulfilling emotional rollercoaster for the chronically impressionable and acutely anxious. Every chapter presente So far this book has taught me two things. 1. That I am far more affected than I expected to be by the phrase "sew a kitten's eyelid closed for three weeks..after which the kitten remained permanently blind in one eye." and 2. Using the word "till" instead of "until" is acceptable in scholarly writing. For the rest of the information, stay tuned. Okay, so I finished the book. It was a fulfilling emotional rollercoaster for the chronically impressionable and acutely anxious. Every chapter presented some new physical calamity that might any day befall me and then a lot of new work about state-of-the-art-medical-attention-aided recovery. Leaving me, at the end of each chapter, feeling a little more indestructible. In other news, the books was quick and accessible to Humanity Heads and even Grammar Faces who have a little mental science sizzle every time the word polymerase is used in a sentence. It had my full attention until I got to the chapter on Handsome Henry and "sexual preference" when I got too angry to continue. I skimmed and skipped and then read the rest of the book in full. The parts where the author talked about reversing the deterioration of the brain caused by aging and the ability of psychotherapy to change the brain were especially interesting to me... even if they were second fiddle to all things more miraculous.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nicky

    Content note: discusses some examples you may interpret as animal cruelty. I have pretty mixed feelings about this book. My main response, I guess, is "read with caution". There are some parts which are reasonable, well-founded, and which don't seem to be driven by any bias. Talking about the ways to help people recover from strokes would fall under this category; I was actually a bit surprised that all of the information about brain maps, and the brain's "use it or lose it" approach to neuronal Content note: discusses some examples you may interpret as animal cruelty. I have pretty mixed feelings about this book. My main response, I guess, is "read with caution". There are some parts which are reasonable, well-founded, and which don't seem to be driven by any bias. Talking about the ways to help people recover from strokes would fall under this category; I was actually a bit surprised that all of the information about brain maps, and the brain's "use it or lose it" approach to neuronal real estate, was actually considered surprising or controversial. I thought that aspect of neurobiology was fairly clear to people in this day and age. Certainly, the idea that you can expand areas of your brain by using them, and lose abilities by not practicing them, seemed to me obvious. The book was written in 2007, so I expected an understanding brain plasticity to be the norm, not the underdog. It's when Doidge got onto other topics that I started to feel uncomfortable. Googling around a bit showed that Fast ForWord isn't universally acclaimed, as I'm sure it would be if the results were as unequivocal as Doidge presents them. Just hitting Wikipedia shows some doubt about the experiments -- the ones with clear positive results were conducted by biased people and weren't subjected to double-blind methods. Then I got to the chapter on "sexual perversions". Sexual perversion, to Doidge, basically seems to be anything he doesn't personally like. People with kinks or fetishes are not just different, but sick, in his analysis. And it's usually their parents' fault -- or porn. It's not just individual difference, but something which must be corrected. Homogeneity for all. (I really wonder what he'd think about my total disinterest in a) sex and b) other people's taboos about sex. If you're not doing anything to anyone that they don't want and haven't asked for, go ahead. Enthusiastic consent obtained? None of my business anymore, if it ever was. Sure, a lot of it makes no sense to me and has no appeal, but nor does skateboarding or bungee jumping.) He just seems to have a problem with difference in general. If your brain isn't wired the way other people's brains are wired, you've got to fix it. This did make his chapter on OCD and related problems interesting to me (see also my mental health awareness post on Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Me). I don't have any particular arguments with his way of describing OCD and the treatment thereof: I recognise those obsessive behaviours, the things that were unhelpful in trying to reverse them, and the things that actually did help. He criticises CBT in a way that entirely makes sense to me, pointing out that by focusing on the intrusive thought, you can get it more firmly entrenched in your mind. This was a very short chapter, though. Then there's a lot of stuff about experiments on animals, which is where I gave up on this guy. I'm not automatically against animal experimentation, when limited, tightly controlled, and cleared or at least discussed with an ethics board. I find it hard, though, to see the value in cutting all the sensory nerves in both a monkey's arms and then sticking a probe into its brain to measure responses there. I find it especially hard to cope with a narrative where this is so matter of fact that there is no mention of ethical concerns at all -- except to complain that they got in the way of science. PETA are often crackpots, I think they might have had a point here, though. So if you do read this, read it with caution, attention to the notes, reference to outside sources and studies. Be prepared for very dispassionate recountings of some pretty awful experiments. (Sure, let's sew a kitten's eye shut for the first weeks of its life, to prove that it can then never process sight with that eye again. It's not like we could do that experiment just by looking historically at children with cataracts. Oh, wait.) Be prepared for the fact that this guy is in no way neutral. The sad thing is, I find the idea of brain plasticity utterly fascinating; some of this book is great. Some of it just... isn't, and I'm sure there must be a better book out there with a bit less of the author's personal feelings directing the text.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    This book is about the plasticity of the brain. That is versus "Localizationism" which holds that the brain is static and each part performs only one function. Modern science, thru the use of MRI, Catscan and observed recoveries of function loss have disproved the long-held notion of localizationism. The book is really a set of stories about people who have regained or developed senses they either lost or never had. The stories are quite inspiring. For example, one man had a stroke and lost the This book is about the plasticity of the brain. That is versus "Localizationism" which holds that the brain is static and each part performs only one function. Modern science, thru the use of MRI, Catscan and observed recoveries of function loss have disproved the long-held notion of localizationism. The book is really a set of stories about people who have regained or developed senses they either lost or never had. The stories are quite inspiring. For example, one man had a stroke and lost the use of his left side. He will himself, on the floor, around his house for a year and retrained another part of his brain to direct his left side and fully recovered. Other stroke victims can now receive plasticity therapy to regain lost motor functions. Phantom limb pain in amputees can be stopped with mirrors. There are many other stories of personal triumph. I got the book when I purchased some software to excerise my brain. The excercises are based on plasticity. I have gotten to the point where the exercises are getting difficult. We'll see if it can help an old man. P.S. there are some animal testing stories in the book that made me a little quesy.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Megan Baxter

    Oliver Sacks, he ain't. Despite the back cover blurb from Oliver Sacks, this is definitely a lesser book. There are some interesting things in here, and may be worth a read, even though there was one chapter that I thought was just terrible. But don't go looking here for Sacks' deep humanism and warmth. This is much more the distant case history, although the science he's talking about is fascinating. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enf Oliver Sacks, he ain't. Despite the back cover blurb from Oliver Sacks, this is definitely a lesser book. There are some interesting things in here, and may be worth a read, even though there was one chapter that I thought was just terrible. But don't go looking here for Sacks' deep humanism and warmth. This is much more the distant case history, although the science he's talking about is fascinating. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here. In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marion

    This book was absolutely fascinating. I have always been intrigued by how the brain works and, even though I am not a "science" person, I found this book easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable. The book is about the recent notion that the brain is "plastic," or malleable. Our brain has the ability to change - through learning, through experience, through our thoughts. It was once thought that the brain was "hardwired," and that certain parts of the brain performed specific tasks and that if those This book was absolutely fascinating. I have always been intrigued by how the brain works and, even though I am not a "science" person, I found this book easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable. The book is about the recent notion that the brain is "plastic," or malleable. Our brain has the ability to change - through learning, through experience, through our thoughts. It was once thought that the brain was "hardwired," and that certain parts of the brain performed specific tasks and that if those parts died, the person was incapable of performing these tasks. But scientists have proven that, when brain cells are killed, the brain has the capacity to reorganize itself to accomplish tasks. The impact: stroke victims who are paralyzed can recover some mobility, people with OCD can recognize that it's their brain that is causing their stress and can choose actions to help their brain reorganize, senior citizens can perform the right types of activities to stimulate new growth (we're not talking doing crossword puzzles - we mean learning new tasks), children with learning disorders can strengthen the "weak" parts of their brain. The discoveries and experiments depicted in this book are changing the way we view the brain and will impact the way we live.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mario Tomic

    The big idea of the book is the concept of plasticity and how the brain deals with learning and changing multiple skills. In a nutshell each brain function is "fighting" for limited resources, there's only so much mapping space available and what you work on the most gets developed. "Use it or lose it." Whatever you don't cultivate, over time you will lose, including ability to: cultivate multiple skills, generate new ideas, stay focused, math/science skills, learning a new language, playing an The big idea of the book is the concept of plasticity and how the brain deals with learning and changing multiple skills. In a nutshell each brain function is "fighting" for limited resources, there's only so much mapping space available and what you work on the most gets developed. "Use it or lose it." Whatever you don't cultivate, over time you will lose, including ability to: cultivate multiple skills, generate new ideas, stay focused, math/science skills, learning a new language, playing an instrument. If you don't act now it just gets harder and harder to do more stuff. As we age the common brain functions get deeper mapping and it gets extremely hard to build new habits because the limited space is already taken by the old ones. What this means is that you need to start cultivating the right habits and skills RIGHT NOW! To conclude we must realize that unlearning is a lot harder than learning because every repetition of that old habit made it stronger. So it's not just about adding, it's about pro-actively removing all the bad shit from your life. This is really a great book, I learned a lot from reading it and I would recommend you to check it out!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    travelling mp3, new car and an open road... Description: An astonishing new science called neuroplasticity is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the human brain is immutable. Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Norman Doidge, M.D., traveled the country to meet both the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity and the people whose lives they've transformed people whose mental limitations or brain damage were seen as unalterable. We see a woman born with half a brain that rewired itself travelling mp3, new car and an open road... Description: An astonishing new science called neuroplasticity is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the human brain is immutable. Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Norman Doidge, M.D., traveled the country to meet both the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity and the people whose lives they've transformed people whose mental limitations or brain damage were seen as unalterable. We see a woman born with half a brain that rewired itself to work as a whole, blind people who learn to see, learning disorders cured, IQs raised, aging brains rejuvenated, stroke patients learning to speak, children with cerebral palsy learning to move with more grace, depression and anxiety disorders successfully treated, and lifelong character traits changed. Using these marvelous stories to probe mysteries of the body, emotion, love, sex, culture, and education, Dr. Doidge has written an immensely moving, inspiring book that will permanently alter the way we look at our brains, human nature, and human potential. Doidge is not a man you would want to invite for dinner as he has no humanity. MANY animals were harmed in the making of book, sickeningly so, and on many occasions seemed to me, unnecessary numbers. Overkill on overkill just for the sake of proving what we all intuitively know already 'Use it or Lose it'. There is an upside, I went into this book a chronically diseased woman and now am convinced I am indestructable - it's a bloody miracle. Experiments aside, this book about brain plasticity is unputdownable, and whilst I would not recommend it on for fear of offending, The Brain That Changes Itself had me in its thrall: it all made perfect sense. 3.5*

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    This book was a very interesting read. I found it to be a pretty "light" read, in that the science mumbo-jumbo had been effectively translated into English. But that doesn't mean Doidge's claims are unsupported--throughout the text, and in extensive notes, he cites published research results, giving the book plenty of credibility. The Brain that Changes Itself discusses the (apparently controversial) subject of neuroplasticity. Although many of its claims seem perfectly intuitive (through mental This book was a very interesting read. I found it to be a pretty "light" read, in that the science mumbo-jumbo had been effectively translated into English. But that doesn't mean Doidge's claims are unsupported--throughout the text, and in extensive notes, he cites published research results, giving the book plenty of credibility. The Brain that Changes Itself discusses the (apparently controversial) subject of neuroplasticity. Although many of its claims seem perfectly intuitive (through mental and physical exercise, we can shape our brains being the main one), the results are often surprising. This book made me more motivated to get off my duff, try new things, and exercise my brain. I recommend it to anyone with some gray matter in their head. I will admit, there was one chapter I didn't particularly care for. Towards the end, Doidge seems to rely more on case studies, and case studies only, than on theoretical experiments. But I found that he presented the information clearly enough, not masking the sources of his conclusions, that I could easily pick through the words and find what I believed to be true.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David Rubenstein

    A truly fascinating, accessible book about the plasticity of the brain. Most interesting to me were the clever approaches that some psychologists invented, for solving or mediating various mental/physical problems. Although this book is not of the "self-help" variety, it contains a number of approaches that have been used for improving brain functioning. A truly fascinating, accessible book about the plasticity of the brain. Most interesting to me were the clever approaches that some psychologists invented, for solving or mediating various mental/physical problems. Although this book is not of the "self-help" variety, it contains a number of approaches that have been used for improving brain functioning.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    The Brain that Slowly Changes Itself, If You Work Really Hard at It It was once thought that the brain was a complex machine, with each part performing a single dedicated function. If a part broke you lost that function. This book is about “brain plasticity”, the concept that the brain can change the way it functions. For example, if one goes blind the part of the brain responsible for sight may be re-wired to improve the sense of hearing or touch. As Doidge puts it: “There is an endless war of n The Brain that Slowly Changes Itself, If You Work Really Hard at It It was once thought that the brain was a complex machine, with each part performing a single dedicated function. If a part broke you lost that function. This book is about “brain plasticity”, the concept that the brain can change the way it functions. For example, if one goes blind the part of the brain responsible for sight may be re-wired to improve the sense of hearing or touch. As Doidge puts it: “There is an endless war of nerves going on inside each of our brains. If we stop exercising our mental skills, the brain map for those skills is turned over for something else. Brain maps are governed by competition for precious resources and the principle of use it or lose it.” Doidge’s books are known mainly for giving hope to those who have suffered brain injuries such as strokes. A typical case study is about a man who suffered a severe stroke that left him mostly paralyzed, with little hope for recovery. Observing that he seemed like a baby, his son spent the next year having his father follow the same process a baby uses to learn to walk. His father was eventually able to resume his hobby of walking in the mountains. Before we talk about miracle cures, it is critical to note that the “plastic” is very stiff and resistant to change, and it takes months or years to adapt a part of the brain to a different purpose. The patient must do a vast amount of work over a long time. Doidge claims the reason traditional physiotherapy often fails is because they give up if there is no progress after a few months, which is not long enough. I think the most interesting parts of the book are related to Doidge’s perspective as a psychoanalyst. He suggests that all learning and experience is about wiring the brain. Consider the amount of time and repetition required to learn to speak, read, or play a musical instrument. Brain dis-function, or neurosis, is acquired the same way, by the repetition of negative experiences. The purpose of talk therapy is help the patient re-wire the brain to produce a better outcome. Given the amount of brain “stiffness”, no amount of therapy will be sufficient unless the patient takes on the responsibility to constantly challenge and correct the malfunctioning circuits. Re-Wiring Education This book directly challenges the modern educational practice of “compensation”, which is to avoid any activity that is difficult for the student, and instead find a way to work around it. A learning disability can be seen as poorly functioning brain path. Doidge provides us with several case studies where intensive therapy was able to correct this kind of problem. Interestingly, this sometimes led to other learning problems also being resolved, as though a missing piece in the puzzle had been restored. The message is that it may be better to address the cause of learning problems rather than trying to avoid them. He reminds us, “Traditional education recognized that children’s brains had to be built up through exercises of increasing difficulty that strengthened brain functions. A classical education included rote memorization of long poems in foreign languages, which strengthened the auditory memory (hence thinking in language) and an almost fanatical attention to handwriting, which helped strengthened motor capacities and added speed and fluency to reading and speaking.” There is no single educational model that can work for everybody, but some the methods of the past that we have abandoned may have worked well for some students. The Pornography Disaster “Human beings exhibit an extraordinary degree of sexual plasticity compared with other creatures. No other instinct can so satisfy without accomplishing its biological purpose, and no other instinct is so disconnected from that purpose.” A now ubiquitous instructional program to disconnect sexuality from its purpose is called pornography. In his words, “Hard-core porn unmasks some of the early neural networks that formed in the critical periods of sexual development and brings all these early, forgotten, or repressed elements together to form a new network, in which all the features are wired together. He has created a kind of 'neosexuality', a rebuilt libido that has strong roots in his buried sexual tendencies.” Frequently repeated attempts to attain pleasure lead to addiction, which involves long-term neuroplastic changes in the brain. As he puts it, “The men at their computers looking at porn are uncannily like experimental rats in cages, pressing the bar to get a shot of dopamine.” He should know, as part of his practice is trying to rehabilitate these victims. They come to him because they are attracted to an impossible fantasy, and can no longer find their real life partner sexually attractive. It is left unsaid that there are other victims of pornography, which depicts women in a perverted and degrading form. Why is there a wall of silence around this subject, especially from so-called feminists? Well Worth Reading I found this book well worth reading. It challenges some of the assumptions of both medicine and education. One concept never mentioned in the book is cost. Time is money, and changing our stiff-plastic brains is very time consuming. Reading his therapy case studies, with people working all day, every day for months and years, I could not help wondering who was going to get the bill? Can we as a society afford to do this for everybody who could potentially be helped? I have good reason to be suspicious of any popular book that makes claims about healing. However, a search through critical expert reviews turned up nothing that specifically debunks what he is saying. A morally bankrupt objection came from a doctor who feared his patients would feel guilty if they learn their condition can be improved through hard work! The content is in line with what I am learning elsewhere about neurobiology. Therefore I consider the book to be credible. Don’t skip the last two chapters, called appendices, which put his findings of individual brain plasticity into a social context. He reminds us, “Civilization is a set of techniques to rewire the brain. But civilization is only one generation deep.” Indeed.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Merilee

    This book was amazing. Not a real page-turner, but a fascinating look at the brain's ability to rewire itself and grow/change beyond our expectation. Praise the Lord who made our brains so complex and adept at fulfilling their purpose! I especially liked the chapters that dealt with autism, and overcoming disabilities. If you are interested in neuroplasticity, brain maps, or just want some ideas about keeping your brain in shape as you age - you may want to read this book. (I didn't particularly li This book was amazing. Not a real page-turner, but a fascinating look at the brain's ability to rewire itself and grow/change beyond our expectation. Praise the Lord who made our brains so complex and adept at fulfilling their purpose! I especially liked the chapters that dealt with autism, and overcoming disabilities. If you are interested in neuroplasticity, brain maps, or just want some ideas about keeping your brain in shape as you age - you may want to read this book. (I didn't particularly like the chapter 4 - it dealt with the brain's role in adapting sexual attraction, and got a bit graphic for me. But that chapter could be skipped over and the message of the book would still be intact.)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michael Perkins

    Conservatives are an especially fear-prone group. In a 2008 paper in the journal Science, researchers subjected a group of adults with strong political beliefs to a set of startling noises and graphic images. Those with the strongest physical reactions were more likely to support capital punishment, defense spending and the war in Iraq. A 2011 paper in the journal Cell found a correlation between conservative leanings and the size of the right amygdala, the portion of the brain that processes em Conservatives are an especially fear-prone group. In a 2008 paper in the journal Science, researchers subjected a group of adults with strong political beliefs to a set of startling noises and graphic images. Those with the strongest physical reactions were more likely to support capital punishment, defense spending and the war in Iraq. A 2011 paper in the journal Cell found a correlation between conservative leanings and the size of the right amygdala, the portion of the brain that processes emotions in response to fearful stimuli. In her book Irony and Outrage, University of Delaware professor Dannagal Young points out that liberals and conservatives respond differently to entertainment rhetoric: Liberals have a higher tolerance for open-ended ambiguity, while conservatives look for closure and want problems to be solved.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    We can alter the structure of our brains, at will, by the way we behave and think. This radical truth entered mainstream neuroscience about 30 years ago, finally shattering the earlier belief in fixed regions of the brain. “Neurons that fire together wire together.” If repeated, the connections get stronger. Unused connections wither away – use it or lose it. Therein lies what Doidge calls the ‘Plastic Paradox’. With commitment, we can expand our brains by learning new skills, at any age, and ope We can alter the structure of our brains, at will, by the way we behave and think. This radical truth entered mainstream neuroscience about 30 years ago, finally shattering the earlier belief in fixed regions of the brain. “Neurons that fire together wire together.” If repeated, the connections get stronger. Unused connections wither away – use it or lose it. Therein lies what Doidge calls the ‘Plastic Paradox’. With commitment, we can expand our brains by learning new skills, at any age, and open up the quality of our lives. Without this, the brain will wire existing habits and thought patterns more tightly into ever deepening ruts producing rigid thinking and narrow lives that are hard to change. Nothing is fixed. Everything is up for grabs. Cultural and religious beliefs, sexual predilections, the sources of depression and anxiety, and much more, are all post-natal wiring that can, in theory, be disentangled and rewired. And the brain’s ability to find neuronal rat-runs, or create new ones, in response to injury (including stroke) is staggering, admittedly with much effort. The brain reshapes in response to sustained, focused attention on something new. Skills that have cognitive and physical elements - learning a musical instrument, dancing, drawing – are especially potent, as are skills that combine the senses such as learning a new language. GoodReaders will be gratified to learn that intense reading of new material also makes the grade. Novelty is indispensible. Good general health is critical, especially sufficient sleep when new skills are wired and memories embedded. Regular exercise encourages the growth of new neurons from stem cells; alcohol does not. The brain’s blood supply is protected by a healthy diet and not smoking. No surprises here. My attention was drawn to reducing the risks of dementia, though the book has a far wider reach than this. It is fascinating that we can alter the structure of our brains as we can alter the shape of our bodies through exercise, and glean such huge benefits as a result. It is no surprise that people who are educated (in the broadest sense) and who continue to explore new cognitive territory are less prone to dementia than those who sink into passive comfort zones. This book was quite a challenging read and assumed some knowledge of neuro-anatomy in the reader. The content is so fascinating, however, that it more than compensates for the rather heavy writing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    This is a must-read for anyone in healthcare. An interesting and important read for everyone else. Cleverly done - he takes real stories about people who have changed their brains, the way they move, communicate, think, act, etc., and discusses the science behind it. He does this in an easy, fascinating way. Another interesting aspect is his discussion on the history behind neuroplasticity. We have known for years that our brain can change. When I became a nurse we were taught that your brain is This is a must-read for anyone in healthcare. An interesting and important read for everyone else. Cleverly done - he takes real stories about people who have changed their brains, the way they move, communicate, think, act, etc., and discusses the science behind it. He does this in an easy, fascinating way. Another interesting aspect is his discussion on the history behind neuroplasticity. We have known for years that our brain can change. When I became a nurse we were taught that your brain is the way it is. When you have a stroke, you are done. If you are born with a deformity or disability, you are incapable of improvements. I'M PROUD TO SAY THIS IS NOT TRUE! I never believed people couldn't change. It simply didn't make sense. I would watch people learn to walk again after a major stroke. This is not a self-help how-to type book. However, if you need encouragement to change in ANY WAY, this will do just that. This is a book discussing plasticity, and how real it is. A++

  16. 5 out of 5

    Farha Crystal

    Neuroplasticity as a double-edged sword can cause flexibility or rigidity to the brain tissues. Neurons in the brain connect themselves as you use them. Each brain function is competing for limited resources and there is limited mapping space. So, what you have worked on the most gets developed. It's similar to physical exercise, the more you practice it in a certain way, the more you will get flexible in certain body parts resulting in more automaticity and the reduction of resources necessary Neuroplasticity as a double-edged sword can cause flexibility or rigidity to the brain tissues. Neurons in the brain connect themselves as you use them. Each brain function is competing for limited resources and there is limited mapping space. So, what you have worked on the most gets developed. It's similar to physical exercise, the more you practice it in a certain way, the more you will get flexible in certain body parts resulting in more automaticity and the reduction of resources necessary to complete a specific move/task. Conversely, if you don't exercise, you will get overwhelmed and trapped with the same cycle of procrastinating exercise. Furthermore, unlearning is a lot harder than learning in a similar way because every repetition of that old habit made it stronger to change further. Now, the brain's ability to change depends on learning through experience( outside stimulants, turning on some genes in catalyst environments...). So, the concept that the certain brain parts were "hardwired" to perform specific tasks were overthrown by its capacity to deny the death of those brain cells( it can simply rewire to accomplish tasks ). The book was so lucid and well consuming but I don't want to have dinner with Norman Doidge for a personal reason( emotional ok? :P ). He described all those experiments on those poor animals such as rats, monkeys, kitten ... in a zombie mode :(. There is another reason, his attitude seems like " If your brain doesn't work like a so-called functional brain then there is something wrong with your brain, so you have to get better with outside stimulants " ( Pardon me, If I misunderstood him ... and I'm open to reread him again :) ) The concept of "change" itself is a fascinating, open path to be promoted/encouraged but when the ethic propaganda "change is for good/bad/better/worse" is promoted to control diversity forcefully then it goes really sickening. But, as a human, I'm full of cognitive dissonances ( :P), so I put 4/5 into my satisfaction level. Because in this case, my left hemisphere reasoning had won the battle against my emotional turndown reasons. :)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jafar

    The book is about neuroplasticity: the idea that our thoughts and experiences can rewire and change the structure of our brains. This may sound like a revolutionary idea in an age when too many people talk about a brain hardwired by our genes, and the author certainly dramatizes this point and wants to portray his book as representing a novel and ground-breaking idea, but somehow what the book says didn’t come across to me as revolutionary as it claims. Maybe because I’ve already read Ramachandr The book is about neuroplasticity: the idea that our thoughts and experiences can rewire and change the structure of our brains. This may sound like a revolutionary idea in an age when too many people talk about a brain hardwired by our genes, and the author certainly dramatizes this point and wants to portray his book as representing a novel and ground-breaking idea, but somehow what the book says didn’t come across to me as revolutionary as it claims. Maybe because I’ve already read Ramachandran and was familiar with some of these “neuroplasticity” ideas? I don’t know. Some ideas in this book are common sense and common knowledge, like avoiding Alzheimer’s disease in the old age by living a life of intense mental activity. The author seems to have ignored the basic rule of science that you cannot make general claims based on some individual cases. I blame that on his being a psychoanalyst. His long chapter on neuroplasticity providing a scientific explanation for psychoanalysis (aren’t psychoanalysts sore about being snubbed by hard scientists!) left me scratching my head. Some inveterate and hardened middle-aged man named Mr. L. finally breaks down after long sessions of analysis and cries, I want my mommy. I wondered what that had to do with neuroplasticity. The chapter on love, sex, and pornography (what a trio) makes all sorts of over-generalized claims. There are parts of the book that sound like a sales pitch for the products of companies that are doing research in neuroplasticity. However, there are also a few fascinating stories in the book that show a radical restructuring of the brain when individuals are subjected to drastically different life experiences or stimulating brain exercise programs.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Hmmm..... This book started out quite interesting but unfortunately I haven't been able to continue reading it. The description of testing on animals started in Chapter 3 and continued in Chapter 4. As an animal lover and animal rights campaigner, I just could not bear to read the detailed descriptions of the torture these poor animals were put through. Hmmm..... This book started out quite interesting but unfortunately I haven't been able to continue reading it. The description of testing on animals started in Chapter 3 and continued in Chapter 4. As an animal lover and animal rights campaigner, I just could not bear to read the detailed descriptions of the torture these poor animals were put through.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    I found this book so inspiring. As a psychiatrist, not much of the subject matter was new, but Doige has compiled decades of research into a readable book about how amazing and adaptable the brain is. I must say that it has really made me think not only about how neuroplasticity affects my clinical practice, but also how it influences myself, my children and my family.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sato

    I read this book in three different positions and each position in a particular angle to the screen. The interesting thing I noticed is that when I changed the usual angle, I was having more struggle to track down the lines and the content and a following significant change in the pace. Over the course of reading, I could see an improvement in reading in different angles which was pretty much proportional to the content of this book, Plasticity. Brain plasticity is truly a gift, which allows us I read this book in three different positions and each position in a particular angle to the screen. The interesting thing I noticed is that when I changed the usual angle, I was having more struggle to track down the lines and the content and a following significant change in the pace. Over the course of reading, I could see an improvement in reading in different angles which was pretty much proportional to the content of this book, Plasticity. Brain plasticity is truly a gift, which allows us to adapt to a vast range of environments. How fundamentally training shapes and rewires brain is presented in several accounts and in different frames in this book. How neurons and different brain parts operating to shape certain plastic changes are very insightful and interesting facts about the underlying process of our brains. Plasticity vs localizationism: Plasticity is an almost new field which revolutionized neuroscience and went directly against the localizationism and the notion of hardwired brains. Therefore plasticity is a science that proves not only brain is not like a hardwired structure of circuits, but also it can be rewired over time provided by numerous experimental cases by pioneers of the science of plasticity like Paul Bach-y-Rita, Merzenich, Ramachandran, Schwartz, Pascual-Leone, and etc. Neuroplastic research has shown us that every sustained activity ever mapped—including physical activities, sensory activities, learning, thinking, and imagining—changes the brain as well as the mind. Plasticity and rewiring: Many tastes we think “natural” are acquired through learning and become “second nature” to us. We are unable to distinguish our “second nature” from our “original nature” because our neuroplastic brains, once rewired, develop a new nature, every bit as biological as our original. Plasticity and Unlearning: The science of unlearning is a very new one. Because plasticity is competitive, when a person develops a neural network, it becomes efficient and self-sustaining and, like a habit, hard to unlearn. Different chemistries are involved in learning than in unlearning. When we learn something new, neurons fire together and wire together, and a chemical process occurs at the neuronal level called “long-term potentiation,” or LTP, which strengthens the connections between the neurons. When the brain unlearns associations and disconnects neurons, another chemical process occurs, called “long-term depression,” or LTD (which has nothing to do with a depressed mood state). Unlearning and weakening connections between neurons is just as plastic a process, and just as important, as learning and strengthening them. If we only strengthened connections, our neuronal networks would get saturated. Evidence suggests that unlearning existing memories is necessary to make room for new memories in our networks. Plasticity and OCD(Obsessive Compulsive Disorder): Schwartz set out to develop a treatment that would change the OCD circuit by unlocking the link between the orbital cortex and the cingulate and normalizing the functioning of the caudate. Schwartz wondered whether patients could shift the caudate “manually” by paying constant, effortful attention and actively focusing on something besides the worry, such as a new, pleasurable activity. This approach makes plastic sense because it “grows” a new brain circuit that gives pleasure and triggers dopamine release which, as we have seen, rewards the new activity and consolidates and grows new neuronal connections. This new circuit can eventually compete with the older one, and according to use it or lose it, the pathological networks will weaken. With this treatment we don’t so much “break” bad habits as replace bad behaviors with better ones. Plasticity and Pain: Ramachandran developed the idea that pain is a complex system under the plastic brain’s control. He summed this up as follows: “Pain is an opinion on the organism’s state of health rather than a mere reflexive response to injury.” The brain gathers evidence from many sources before triggering pain. He has also said that “pain is an illusion” and that “our mind is a virtual reality machine,” which experiences the world indirectly and processes it at one remove, constructing a model in our head. So pain, like the body image, is a construct of our brain. Plasticity and Imagination: Whats several “imaginary” experiments show is how truly integrated imagination and action are, despite the fact that we tend to think of imagination and action as completely different and subject to different rules. But consider this: in some cases, the faster you can imagine something, the faster you can do it. Jean Decety of Lyon, France, has done different versions of a simple experiment. When you time how long it takes to imagine writing your name with your “good hand,” and then actually write it, the times will be similar. When you imagine writing your name with your nondominant hand, it will take longer both to imagine it and to write it. Most people who are right-handed find that their “mental left hand” is slower than their “mental right hand.” In studies of patients with stroke or Parkinson’s disease (which causes people’s movements to slow), Decety observed that patients took longer to imagine moving the affected limb than the unaffected one. Both mental imagery and actions are thought to be slowed because they both are products of the same motor program in the brain. The speed with which we imagine is probably constrained by the neuronal firing rate of our motor programs.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shaun

    As scientists have learned more about the brain, they've come to reject the idea that it is a fixed hardwired machine as previously thought, but instead a malleable and flexible structure that can change throughout our lifespan in ways that we are only just beginning to appreciate. Each chapter in The Brain That Changes Itself deals with a theme that explores the plastic nature of the brain and an individual story that highlights that particular theme. From treating stroke victims to those suffer As scientists have learned more about the brain, they've come to reject the idea that it is a fixed hardwired machine as previously thought, but instead a malleable and flexible structure that can change throughout our lifespan in ways that we are only just beginning to appreciate. Each chapter in The Brain That Changes Itself deals with a theme that explores the plastic nature of the brain and an individual story that highlights that particular theme. From treating stroke victims to those suffering from learning disabilities or struggling to recover from psychological trauma to those looking to protect themselves against or reverse mental decline and dementia, understanding the plastic and restorative nature of the brain offers new hope and options in achieving brain health and better quality of life for many who had little to no hope before. Like any emerging science, the "research" has to be taken at face value. Yet I think this book does a good job of introducing the changing attitudes about the brain, how it works, and what those new attitudes mean from a clinical perspective. At times, some chapters sounded like infomercials for a particular treatment/technique, though I think this was simply enthusiasm on the author's part, perhaps to honor the men and women who contributed to this book. Obviously we haven't figured the brain out, but with each new discovery we find another small piece of the puzzle and Doidge did a good job of introducing the concept of neuroplasticity, how we got there scientifically, and its implications. Some of the reviews I read found fault with the chapter on sex, which talked about the addictive side of pornography among other things. I personally didn't find it offensive or prudish, and it was consistent with other things I have read. At the very minimum, Doidge makes some valid points, although this particular chapter felt more biased than the others and seemed to be less cohesive in terms of its overall presentation. I also enjoyed the Appendixes which delved into the social implications of brain plasticity. For example, genetics influences brain development which influences culture, but culture can also influence the structure of the brain. Furthermore, the malleable nature of the brain can have negative consequences and those are briefly explored. Bottom line, a good read that I would recommend to those interested in brain science, specifically the plastic nature of the brain and the practical implications.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Koen Crolla

    The Brain that Changes Itself is nominally about neuroplasticity and our growing understanding of it, but if you like your pop sci to have its emphasis on the sci rather than the pop, it's probably not the best book for you to be reading. It's important to keep in mind that the subtitle is ``Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science''; the main purpose of it is not to inform, but to make you feel good about what the human body can do. And unsurprisingly, a lot of the time th The Brain that Changes Itself is nominally about neuroplasticity and our growing understanding of it, but if you like your pop sci to have its emphasis on the sci rather than the pop, it's probably not the best book for you to be reading. It's important to keep in mind that the subtitle is ``Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science''; the main purpose of it is not to inform, but to make you feel good about what the human body can do. And unsurprisingly, a lot of the time the thing that is triumphed over is not just a disability, but also the (as usual largely imaginary) derision and ossification of the Scientific Establishment, which gets incredibly old really quickly. Doidge does hint at the downsides of neuroplasticity, mostly using the predictable example—porn addiction. He happily parrots Freud and pulls a whole lot of bullshit about the decline of modern society out of his ass, demonstrating once again why, exactly, only psychologists think psychologists are scientists. For all the sensitivity displayed about physical and mental disabilities, he certainly has no qualms about denouncing perfectly innocent fetishes as ``perversion''. So it's science in much the same way that science journalism is, nowadays. While there are important insights to be had here, he spends too much time focussing on the human interest side of things, and grossly overstating how controversial neuroplasticity is. It's definitely one of those books that would have been great if it had been written by a scientist, but as it is, it's barely a few steps above day-time television. (The appendices, incidentally, are even worse than the main body, and an important reason my rating is so low. The first, The Culturally Modified Brain, is guilty of the worst excesses of evolutionary psychology as she is practised, with a healthy dose of cultural condescension thrown in. The second, Plasticity and the Idea of Progress, tries to attribute the concept of neuroplasticity to everyone from Rousseau to Thomas Jefferson. This is the same impulse that credits Democritus with modern atomic theory and Jesus the Buddha with Marxism, and I will never understand it.)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gail

    I really wasn't sure how to rate this book as I don't usually read non-fiction. It was remarkably easy to read and understand, well set out with a lot of supportive evidence. It documented the development of the theory of brain plasticity. How various people had played with the idea over time, gaining little or no support. To down right stonings. That last bit might be a slight exaggeration. :). The topics touched on were fascinating. Mid book I got a little concerned about some areas covered an I really wasn't sure how to rate this book as I don't usually read non-fiction. It was remarkably easy to read and understand, well set out with a lot of supportive evidence. It documented the development of the theory of brain plasticity. How various people had played with the idea over time, gaining little or no support. To down right stonings. That last bit might be a slight exaggeration. :). The topics touched on were fascinating. Mid book I got a little concerned about some areas covered and started reading reviews so I could understand how to interpret the information provided. That helped a lot. What I am going to do now is: get out there, do a bit of exercise to help grow a few neurons; exercise my brain wildly so I don't lose any. Then I am going to cross my fingers and hope it really can help me resist Alzheimers. EDIT: I was very excited to find out Friday, that the organisation I work for has a programme in place to test the theory of re-wiring the brain. One of the topics written about in this book. 12 children with learning difficulties have been sellected to trial the programme. I am so pleased to be part of an organisation that is able and willing to trial something like this. If these children can have their brains re mapped, wow! That is all I have to say!

  24. 5 out of 5

    H.A. Leuschel

    A fascinating book about the malleability of the brain. The author presents a variety of case studies that show that an individual's mind can fix what is wrong with the brain. This is down to the idea that the brain has a plasticity with the capability to heal and alter at any time during a person's life. Examples are patients with phantom limb pain, OCD sufferers, blindness, pain management etc. who all benefited from a neuroplastic therapeutic approach to improve their condition. It's an inspi A fascinating book about the malleability of the brain. The author presents a variety of case studies that show that an individual's mind can fix what is wrong with the brain. This is down to the idea that the brain has a plasticity with the capability to heal and alter at any time during a person's life. Examples are patients with phantom limb pain, OCD sufferers, blindness, pain management etc. who all benefited from a neuroplastic therapeutic approach to improve their condition. It's an inspiring account to think that the way we 'use' our brains can be crucial in either change toxic behaviour patterns or if left untreated embed them further as a fixed brain pathway that can cause chronic conditions. It's a thought-provoking read and worth a detour if all else seems to fail!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Whitney

    An incredibly insightful novel into the new wave of Neuroplasticity. Once upon a time the brain was considered a single part of the body shaped & unchanged into adulthood. This body of work enlightens us to the great organ that is the BRAIN an everchanging miraculous part of our body

  26. 4 out of 5

    PattyMacDotComma

    I'd already seen the TV series about it, but it was just as fascinating to read. Might have to get a copy to keep browsing through. I'd already seen the TV series about it, but it was just as fascinating to read. Might have to get a copy to keep browsing through.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lcbogota

    This book made me reexamine what I believed about human behavior, in particular our ability to change. The author refers to neuroscience and brain studies to argue that every time we engage in a behavior, we create or reinforce pathways in our brain. Intuitively we know that the more you practice a skill, the better you get at it. The better you get at something, the less effort it takes. Brain scans demonstrate this process. The concept is known as brain plasticity, which means the brain's abil This book made me reexamine what I believed about human behavior, in particular our ability to change. The author refers to neuroscience and brain studies to argue that every time we engage in a behavior, we create or reinforce pathways in our brain. Intuitively we know that the more you practice a skill, the better you get at it. The better you get at something, the less effort it takes. Brain scans demonstrate this process. The concept is known as brain plasticity, which means the brain's ability to adapt and change. The technical explanation for this process is summarized in Hebb's law: "Neurons that fire together, wire together." I was surprised to find that Sigmund Freud --who started out as a neurologist before getting into psychoanalysis-- had proposed something very similar. In 1888, Freud stated that when two neurons fire simultaneously, this firing facilitates their ongoing association. This was the notion behind Freud's idea of free association: the concept that seemingly random pairings of words in fact have a neurological basis. Author Norman Doidge argues that the same process of reinforcing neuron connections that allows the brain to change, is also responsible for the creation of behavioral rigidity: The more we engage in a certain behavior, the more entrenched that behavior becomes. As such, the same process that is responsible for our ability to adapt and change can also makes us more rigid and inflexible. This challenges the notion that we are "hardwired" for certain characteristics or behaviors, and suggests that human behavior is not predestined and inevitable. The other side of the coin would be the school of thought that favors the notion of genetic predisposition, and questions whether human nature contains innate characteristics, personal inclination or tendencies. Doidge does not address these issues. The book does not present plasticity as a panacea, and it directly cautions against the notion of human perfectibility (perfectibilité, Jean-Jacques Rousseau), but it does offer optimism concerning the brain's ability to adapt, and it looks at how this can be put to practical use. Uses of plasticity: Therapy for stroke victims who were previously thought beyond help. Retraining for balance problems. Sight and hearing for the blind/deaf. Therapy for people with learning disabilities. Training the older brain to keep it in shape. Psychotherapy For dealing with behaviors that we want to change. Aim of therapy when dealing with incidents from the critical period of early life is to make these explicit and retranscribe them as a conscious language-based memory. The Challenge The author challenges us to look at our own behavior and ask the question: "Am I doing this because it is the best thing to be doing now, or am I doing this because it is what I tend to do in this situation?" Never again will I say: That's just the way I am, it's in my nature. Rather I now look at my behavior and say: This is what I choose to do. This is what I choose to be.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra Kay Silva

    At least for me, a large portion of my upbringing in anatomy, physiology, and psychology at University lead me to the conclusion that different areas of the brain are hardwired for different things and that from there on out it is pretty much just simon says. Because I knew little about the plasticity of the brain, or much of the notion that this is how the brain worked I think the book really got me around seeing a different side of what a marvelous organ the brain truly is and how complex and At least for me, a large portion of my upbringing in anatomy, physiology, and psychology at University lead me to the conclusion that different areas of the brain are hardwired for different things and that from there on out it is pretty much just simon says. Because I knew little about the plasticity of the brain, or much of the notion that this is how the brain worked I think the book really got me around seeing a different side of what a marvelous organ the brain truly is and how complex and intricate the connections are. I have worked extensively with a wide variety of Alzheimers and Dementia care patients, so I am not really surprised by the novelty of things the human mind may be able to come up with so much as the authors explanation for how these connections can be made/rewired. I have to say, that I think the book is geared somewhat to people like myself, or who were brought up with a similar mindset about the way the brain functions and you can tell from early on the author is really trying to get the reader to see that the brain has plastic aspects and can readily adapt to a wide variety of circumstances. I like his message of perseverance in a number of areas from stroke victims to autistic individuals, where new treatment incorporating mind set and using mind exercises to overcome difficult and devastating physical problems is a good one. I think that we underestimated what we are sometimes capable of in terms of recovery, and what pathways can be laid down even later in life. Overall I though there was a lot of really interesting stories provided and good content on the subject.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

    This is an absolutely fascinating book about how neurologists have discovered in the past thirty years or so that the human brain is much, much more resilient and plastic than it was believed to be for a long time. Neurologists used to think that everyone's brain map was basically the same, with functions like sight or hearing in pretty much the same place, and that if those sections of the brain were damaged, then the function they controlled would be permanently impaired. This didn't explain, This is an absolutely fascinating book about how neurologists have discovered in the past thirty years or so that the human brain is much, much more resilient and plastic than it was believed to be for a long time. Neurologists used to think that everyone's brain map was basically the same, with functions like sight or hearing in pretty much the same place, and that if those sections of the brain were damaged, then the function they controlled would be permanently impaired. This didn't explain, however, people who were born with sections of their brain missing, yet still were able to live normal or almost normal lives, nor did it explain why some people who suffered strokes were able to regain skills that should have been lost forever. Doige profiles some of the most innovative neurologists in the field, and discusses case histories of individuals who exemplify the brain's plasticity. There was only one section of the book where I felt Doige was dodging some issues. In the chapter on sexuality, he discusses the role that neuroplasticity might feature in the case of fetishes or addiction to pornography. He stops short, however, of the risky topic of what neuroplasticity might mean in the case of sexual orientation. I understand that this is a controversial topic and that he (and other researchers) might want to avoid it, but it struck me as rather disengenuous to gloss over it completely.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mara

    Amazing from both a lay and scientific perspective and introduced me to some authors/neuroscientists (e.g. VS Ramachandran) whose work I continue to follow and enjoy.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...