An astonishing new scientific discovery called neuroplasticity is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the adult human brain is fixed and unchanging. It is, instead, able to change its own structure and function, even into old age.
Psychiatrist and researcher Norman Doidge, MD, travelled around the United States to meet the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity, and the people whose lives they’ve transformed — people whose mental limitations or brain damage were previously seen as unalterable, and whose conditions had long been dismissed as hopeless.
We see a woman born with half a brain that rewired itself to work as a whole; a woman labelled retarded who cured her deficits with brain exercises and now cures those of others; blind people who learn to see; learning disorders cured; IQs raised; ageing brains rejuvenated; stroke patients recovering their faculties; children with cerebral palsy learning to move more gracefully; entrenched depression and anxiety disappearing; and lifelong character traits changed.
Doidge takes us onto terrain that might seem fantastic. We learn that our thoughts can switch our genes on and off, altering our brain anatomy. We learn how people of average intelligence can, with brain exercises, improve their cognition and perception, develop muscle strength, or learn to play a musical instrument — simply by imagining doing so.
Using personal stories from the heart of this neuroplasticity revolution, 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.
For years the doctrine of neuroscientists has been that the brain is a machine: break a part and you lose that function permanently. But more and more evidence is turning up to show that the brain can rewire itself, even in the face of catastrophic trauma: essentially, the functions of the brain can be strengthened just like a weak muscle. Scientists have taught a woman with damaged inner ears, who for five years had had "a sense of perpetual falling," to regain her sense of balance with a sensor on her tongue, and a stroke victim to recover the ability to walk although 97% of the nerves from the cerebral cortex to the spine were destroyed. With detailed case studies reminiscent of Oliver Sachs, combined with extensive interviews with lead researchers, Doidge, a research psychiatrist and psychoanalyst at Columbia and the University of Toronto, slowly turns everything we thought we knew about the brain upside down. He is, perhaps, overenthusiastic about the possibilities, believing that this new science can fix every neurological problem, from learning disabilities to blindness. But Doidge writes interestingly and engagingly about some of the least understood marvels of the brain.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Great and Informative
Most of this book was quite inspirational. It certainly has had me working to improve certain aspects of my brain!
This is one of the most amazing books I have ever read. The short stories of people's lives that were changed thru the discovery of neuroplasticity are quite simply astonishing.