A book that will amaze you: The Brain That Changes Itself

One of my unusual interests in books is the world of neurology, a passion which has grown over the last few years since I first read Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks, a book which I have talked about at some length before in this blog. From there I tracked down the rest of Oliver Sacks’ extensive range of books on neurology, before branching out towards other authors. And, inevitably, I came across one of the most amazing books I have ever read, and one I want to share with you now, The Brain That Changes Itself : Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge.

This book is the result of research that Doidge, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, conducted into neuroplasticity, during which he met both the scientists behind it and the people whose lives have been radically transformed because of this amazing trait of our brains. What is neuroplasticity, you ask? It is the name given to the ability of the brain to change itself, to change both its structure and function, even into old age, and to adapt to a wide array of various traumas, limitations, and even just simply to change with new lifestyles. Up until the last few decades, it was believed the brain was fixed in its structure, hard wired in such a way that if a part of the brain was damaged, there wasn’t much that could be done to help. But this book, and the concept of neuroplasticity, sets out to show how wrong that previous understanding really was.

The Brain That Changes Itself is presented in a very accessible format, created with the intention of attracting all kinds of readers and generally spreading awareness of and appreciation for this incredible science. The book is mostly made up of various case studies, illustrating the amazing people who have undergone change through the processes neuroplasticity enables us. Some of these include a woman who is born with only half a brain, which manages to rewire itself to work as a fully functional brain; a lecturer who suffers a stroke, is told he will never talk or walk again, and, due to the perseverance of a family member, and neuroplasticity, manages to be back lecturing again only a year later; and people using brain exercises to raise their IQs and cure learning disorders. There are also people who change lifelong personality traits, people who manage to overcome depression and anxiety, people who manage to relieve themselves from painful phantom limbs, and so much more.

Some of these stories in this book are so amazing that you would almost think you were reading a fiction book, and it is quite remarkable that these are all true stories, which act as a beacon of hope for people all around the world. If you want to be inspired, and to learn things about the brain you never thought imaginable, this book is a very good place to start.

Have you read this book already, or heard of neuroplasticity from elsewhere? If so, what are your thoughts on the matter?

7 thoughts on “A book that will amaze you: The Brain That Changes Itself

  1. How interesting! I will definitely have to read it and pass it along to my friend who had a stroke a few years ago. She has made remarkable success in getting back the mobility of her left side which was paralyzed for several months. She still has trouble with certain movements and stamina but she has come a long way. Thanks for recommending this book! 🙂

    • Oh wow, that is great to hear about your friend who has recovered so well! I imagine both you and her would enjoy this book then. I have passed this book on to quite a number of friends and family over the past couple of years, it really is quite an inspiring eye-opener! 🙂

  2. Neurology is one of my areas of interest too!! 🙂 And thank you so much for suggesting this book. I don’t know when but I hope to read it sometime soon!

  3. Have always been fascinated by the brain and wanted to be a neurosurgeon before I became a pediatrician instead! Read a book a couple of years ago, My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, herself a neuro-scientist, who suffered a stroke. It took her eight years to recover completely but she did it 🙂 I think medical science has just begun to scratch at the surface of this amazing organ! This is another one for my reading list.

    • Oh wow! It’s awesome to find somebody else who is so interested in the brain and neurology! I have heard of that book My Stroke of Insight, it sounds amazing. I definitely want to read it, I always find books by neuro-scientists who are writing about their own afflictions are always very insightful. Oliver Sacks has written about his own neurological struggles a couple of times, most recently in his book about vision, The Mind’s Eye, where he discussed the permanent damage to his vision from Eye Cancer.
      I agree, the science behind the brain is still in its infancy, and I think there will be exciting times ahead in this field! 🙂

  4. Pingback: Love books? Love music? You might love this, too! | wantoncreation

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s