Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science
Well I read this book on several recommendations after a brief bit of research on the plasticity of the mind. I was definitely not disappointed and to be honest, I really loved this book. It was a fascinating, revealing look at how how thoughts and actions can truly change the structure of our mind and it does so in a hopeful examination of many brain changing breakthroughs.
Doidge is an amazing Canadian author and he simplifies the most complex of sciences into clear, vivid stories and experiments that demonstrate the astonishing changes the brain can make and in turn, transform the people housing them.
Neuroplasticity has been formed by the discovery that the human brain is extremely malleable. Scientists have long known this is true with infancy, but the science now extends well into old age. In classical neuroscience, the adult brain was considered to be hardwired and a continuous working machine once formed. Specific brain areas and maps were labeled with a specific purpose and little was known about if or how these areas could be replaced or repaired so it led to the common belief that you can’t easily mold the brain.
Who is the Book For?
This book drives home a paradigm shift in brain study and it has great value not only to those with a neurological disease, but for any human being with the curiosity and willingness to discover more about the makeup of their own abilities to learn, which is what interested me so much!
Doidge has numerous examples of neurologically diseased patients who gain from this revolutionary science to improve their condition. Cases are studied from many severe conditions:
- Cerebral palsy
- Learning disabilities
- Obsessive compulsive disorders
- Phantom limbs
- many more…
Each of these demonstrate the adult’s innate ability to alter the mind and how specific methods can be applied to reshape the brain. Whether you know someone with these conditions or are purely interested in the marvel behind this new science, anyone can take away insight about learning and shaping the mind in a positive way.
The Learning Mind
Doidge also covers how the plastic nature of the mind affects not only mental mind maps in trauma but even in every day activities. Societal differences and behaviors can have as much impact on the mind as a brain injury which he explores several examples of human abilities and specifically, the brain’s ability to mend itself due to social differences or environmental affects.
These implications of rewiring the mind however, are also to be cautioned. The brain is actually so malleable it is also quite vulnerable to its surroundings and seemingly little impact input to the mind can make a drastic change to the way we perceive and handle the world around us. The impact of media and television are showing significant impact and damage on the mind leading to disorders become more and more prevalent in today’s young people. This is something to be cautious of as people can highly influence and shape the mind as well. Parents, peers, and leaders all make a significant contribution to the structure of our brains and while it can be changed, it is not always easy to do so.
Despite these risks of manipulating the mind, Doidge keeps a positive outlook through his fantastic stories of triumph and he walks through cases and ideas on how our thoughts can switch on specific genes and alter our brain anatomy. He shows how intelligence can be improve with brain exercises, how people can improve their cognition, perception, muscle strength and music talents among others, all by letting the imagination shape our minds for us. I found these areas and really the whole book, absolutely fascinating, uplifting and amazing to see and put into practice the thoughts, imagination and input for my mind that let me shape it the way I want to. I can’t recommend this book enough.
Norman Doidge, M.D., is a research psychiatrist and psychoanalyst on the faculty at the Columbia University Psychoanalytic Centre in New York and the University of Toronto, as well as an award-winning writer. He has presented his scientific research at the White House. Website: http://www.normandoidge.com
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