Monday, 23 April 2012

The Brain That Changes Itself - Norman Doidge (2007)

I wanted to read this ever since my psychology teacher waxed lyrical about it. just on opening it, the first 5 and a half pages are filled with raving reviews from journals, newspapers, book-stores and doctors.

This book explains neuroplasticity in plain English. It has amazing stories detailing how the brain is not hardwired, but plastic and can adapt and change. Senses reorganise and strengthen when one is lost, learning disabilities can be remedied through constant repetition, stroke victims can walk and talk again, psychoanalysis changes the brain structurally and as we age there are a variety of activities to keep our brains 'young'.

This book has several chapters, each detailing a different aspect of neuroplasticity using case studies. For exxample, in the first chapter, one woman is constantly falling over because her organ for the balance system is damaged. She is given a hat with a device attached to it that gives tiny electric shocks to her tongue depending on where she is leaning. With this device she can walk without falling. The first time she wore it, once she took it off, her balance remained for a minute. But after months of using it for hours at a time, she no longer needs it. Her brain adapted to percieve balance from input from this device and eventually could perceive balance wthout the necessary organ or an artificial device

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