Two leading neuroscientists examine how the brain is in flux and how this applies to addressing neurological, cognitive, and emotional health.
Beginning with a survey of the fundamental scientific developments that led to our current understanding of the regenerative mind, the authors elucidate the breakthrough neurobiological studies that paved the way for our present understanding of the brain’s plasticity and regenerative capabilities. They then discuss the application of these findings to such issues as depression, dyslexia, schizophrenia, and cognitive therapy, incorporating the latest technologies in neuroimaging, optogenetics, and nanotechnology. Their work shows the brain is anything but a static organ, ceasing to grow as human beings become adults. Rather, the brain is dynamic, evolving organically in relation to physical, cultural, historical, and affective stimuli, a plasticity that provides early hope to survivors of trauma and degenerative disorders.
“Highly informative, up to date, and entertaining, The Custom-Made Brain emphasizes that the brain is constantly being constructed during an individual’s lifetime, like a medieval cathedral that is never finished and yet ages without reaching ‘maturity.’ The brain, like the cathedral, is forever being repaired and restored. A stimulating read.” —Israel Rosenfield, City University of New York, author of The Invention of Memory: A New View of the Brain
“This short account succeeds in an original and thought-provoking manner. It will become a valuable resource for clinicians who manage the care of those disabled by stroke, brain injury, or dementia. Many young scientists will be encouraged to take up the challenge of brain repair in the face of decades of therapeutic pessimism.” —Lawrence Whalley, University of Aberdeen, author of The Aging Brain
Neuroscientists Vincent and Lledo challenge the popular idea that the human brain is a static organ and demonstrate its flexibility and capacity for growth and change in this sometimes entertaining, but often tedious study of brain science. The pair provide an informative overview of the evolutionary growth of the brain as well as a detailed description of each region of the brain and its function. Drawing on theirs and others' research, the authors then examine the critical ways that the brain begins to degenerate due to age or other pathologies and explore many of the methods that brain scientists are using to enhance and plasticity of the brain. For example, brain-machine interface technology establishes a relationship between "human thought and machine function, whether a computer or a robot," and allows for entertaining the possibility of a future where humans can move or communicate merely by thought. Vincent and Lledo point to ethical questions philosophers raise regarding brain enhancements: if we seek to enhance the brain directly and make it work better than normal, are we "meddling with man as a human being?" In spite of such questions, the authors enthusiastically embrace the possibilities inherent in brain enhancement and promote it as a path toward human happiness.