This title isn’t available with your membership

We’re working with the publisher to make it available as soon as possible. If you’d like to read it immediately, you can purchase this title individually.

Request Title
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 theyve transformedpeople 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.
Published: Penguin Group on Mar 15, 2007
ISBN: 9781101147115
List price: $14.99
Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
Availability for The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge
Available as a separate purchase
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.
Clear rating

The author, a psychiatrist, presents personal stories from his research and his practice of the remarkable ability of the human brain to "reinvent" itself following trauma, whether physical or psychological. A fascinating look at the workings of the human brain and research undertaken to understand its workings. Prose is easily grasped by non-medical types such as myself.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Very readable account of the science of brain plasticity and its applications in therapies for people who have suffered strokes, brain traumas, addictions and old age. The appendix on "The culturally Modified Brain" is merely one high point in a brief book full of fascinating facts, insights and reflections.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Best type of popular science. This book is an easy read and most inspiring - it introduces the layperson to neuroplasticity, showing how our brains are flexible and can rewire themselves in response to damage. It also shows how we can use practice, habit and our imaginations to rewire our own brains - for better or worse. You will not think in the same way after you have read this. Highly recommended.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Read all reviews

Reviews

The author, a psychiatrist, presents personal stories from his research and his practice of the remarkable ability of the human brain to "reinvent" itself following trauma, whether physical or psychological. A fascinating look at the workings of the human brain and research undertaken to understand its workings. Prose is easily grasped by non-medical types such as myself.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Very readable account of the science of brain plasticity and its applications in therapies for people who have suffered strokes, brain traumas, addictions and old age. The appendix on "The culturally Modified Brain" is merely one high point in a brief book full of fascinating facts, insights and reflections.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Best type of popular science. This book is an easy read and most inspiring - it introduces the layperson to neuroplasticity, showing how our brains are flexible and can rewire themselves in response to damage. It also shows how we can use practice, habit and our imaginations to rewire our own brains - for better or worse. You will not think in the same way after you have read this. Highly recommended.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This very readable book takes the layperson on a journey through a variety of cases and researchers involved with neuroplasticity. Where other texts have tended to focus on one aspect (e.g., brain injury, countering aging, psychotherapy), Doidge is unusual in that he combines rather different cases into one book. In this mix, you'll find the tales of recovery from stroke, the story of a girl born with only one brain hemisphere, and musings on neural changes after exposure to pornography. The brain is not set in stone in childhood; it continues to add new cells and form new connections between cells until the day we die. Be warned, however; much of what we've learned about the workings of the brain has come from animal research, and the details aren't danced around in this book. In fact, the author spends quite a few pages defending the research using silverbacks conducted by Taub; he makes the case that PETA had its facts wrong and actually did more harm to the animals by taking them away from the lab. Readers will encounter examinations of the brains of sacrificed animals, but they will also find descriptions of human autopsies and their findings. For example, the findings of new cells in the final days of life aren't from indirect evidence, but direct observations from autopsies. Such descriptions do not make up the bulk of the book, but they are more than a few pages and particularly sensitive readers may want to find another book to read.Weaving clinical anecdotes with background on prominent researchers, Doidge makes a very good case that research on humans and other animals can translate to improvements in quality of life for those with impaired development or brain injury. Well-referenced, the work tucks away literature citations at the end of the book so that they don't interrupt the flow of the narrative.Although the chapters of the text cover a variety of cases, the commonalities of neuroplasticity come through clearly for the reader to make this work a unified whole. I recommend this book for any educated layperson who'd like to know more about the flexibility of the brain without learning a vast new terminology.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Good book so far. Interesting to learn more about brain function but written with stories so it is not dry and boring with a bunch of graphs and numbers.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The first thing to be said is that Doidge is no writer--he dangles participles like a bastard, he has a Tom Clancyish sense of the physical traits, personality points, and biographical notes that will make "brilliant physiologist Paul Bach-y-Rita" or "Holocaust survivor Eric Kandel" into the kind of pat characters whose life and work can be rolled out in a cheap moviesque narrative. Some of his sentences don't even make sense.

But that turns out to matter very little, because the material at hand here is so, so interesting. I'm a little suspicious of Doidge's "for years nobody believed in neuroplasticity, but now they realize it will FIX EVERYTHING", but I think that's more the fault of the presenter, because wow, neuroplasticity is going to fix everything! The basic concept is that while most of our mental and physical functions may live in specific locations in the brain, that's not hard and fast as suggested by old localization creed--neural maps can move, and new areas can take over for old ones, and with repetition and exercise we can train our brain to function in new ways and learn or relearn skills that brain damage should mean we've lost or never had. Help for kids with autism, aphasia, old people with Alzheimer's! Help for the deaf and blind! Understanding how falling in love wipes out our old mental maps as we neuroplastically mold to our new lovers! Amputating phantom limbs! Helping people with OCD, obsessive thoughts, chronic pain. Understanding the imagination. A sombre but not sensationalistic discussion of how neuroplasticity informs the whole internet-pornography thing. Helping people lose undesirable personality traits by learning why they developed them in the first place. Even a girl who is a little weird but fully functioning WITH ONLY HALF A BRAIN.

And let's go back, briefly, not to the brain girl, as interesting as she is, but to the personality traits thing. As an English grad student who was just laughing about how all the suggested t-shirt designs for our program feature quotations, not from literature, but from critical theorists, because that's still the way fucking English programs roll ("Dare to Dream" -Lacan. Nice sentiment coming from anyone else), what interests me is the way Doidge, obviously interested in the future of brain science but also a fairly old-school psychoanalyst and believer in the talking cure, manages to square the circle, reminding us that Freud ("Yo mama" -Freud. the others are even worse) was originally a neurologist and bringing stuff about plasticity back to the familiar ol' Freudian notions about how we learn to be who we are--and bringing Freudian notions about how we learn habits to protect our fragile psyches down to what that actually is proving to mean in the brain, and how true it's proving to be. Freud first proposed neuroplasticity. Freud first proposed the synapse, and the simultaneous firing of synapses is behind his ideas on free association. Other shit like that. I admit I'm not really qualified to evaluate the evidence coming as it does only from Doidge the true believer, but when I'm spending days in psych classes with Carrie Cuttler pooh-poohing the very notion of anything Freudian having anything relevant to say to modern psychology, which lest we forget is a real science, it's nice to get a corrective, however much truth is in it, that says hey, Freud may not be experimental science by the modern standard, but he created a model of serious explanatory power, and not just as a gussied-up metaphor the way English students use it. there is also a discussion of Marshall McLuhan in terms of how the medium actually affects the brain. Actually taking theory as referring in non-parameaningful terms to things and processes in the real world, and laying it all out for us in such compelling, even if sometimes crudely expressed, terms, is . . . well, it kind of restores your faith in the public (even the pop) intellectual, is what it does.

Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Load more
scribd