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The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science Paperback – Dec 18 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1 Reprint edition (Dec 18 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143113100
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143113102
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14.1 x 2.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,289 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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70 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on July 3 2007
This is the most interesting book I've read about brain science . . . and the most relevant. I highly recommend you read it!

If you haven't been following brain science, you may wonder what all the fuss is about. Recent experiments have overturned a long-held tenant of brain science: That specific mental and bodily functions can only be directed from one location in the brain. Destroy that section and physicians have told you that you were out of luck. This conclusion doomed many who had suffered strokes and other brain injuries to having no hope of improvement.

The good news, as described in this easy-to-understand popular treatment, is that the brain can actually relocate functions to new areas if the primary site is destroyed. As a result, stroke victims can gain control over movements by therapy designed to disable their abler body areas . . . forcing the brain to establish new circuits to control the areas with little or no control; the blind can learn to "see" using sensor inputs from other areas of their bodies; those without balance can relearn balance through using other feedback mechanisms; and those with "phantom" pain tied to missing limbs can trigger elimination of that sensation. The only continuing limitation seems to be that some areas of the brain are only open to maximum flexibility during short periods of life. But promising research suggests that biochemical tools may be able to reopen those pathways to progress.

Chances are that your physician won't know about all of these advanced therapies. If you or someone you know has neurological disorders, you should read this book to see where to send them for help.

Be sure to check out the sections on how psychoanalysis can be used to rewire the brain to change sensations, reactions, and behavior, and the appendices on cultural impacts on the brain and the potential for perfectibility.
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96 of 99 people found the following review helpful By J. Zimman on March 30 2007
A revolution is now sweeping through the field of brain science, and this book chronicles the stories of the men and women who have ushered in a new age. The brain is no longer viewed as a machine that is hard-wired early in life, unable to adapt and destined to "wear out" with age. Instead, we learn that scientists are beginning to unlock the secrets of the powerful, lifelong, adaptability - or "plasticity" - of the brain. The implications are enormous for treating neurological conditions, for addressing the aging process and for dramatic improvements in human performance. Author Norman Doidge is a psychiatrist on the Columbia faculty and he tells one spell-binding story after another, as he travels the globe interviewing the scientists and their subjects who are on the cutting edge of these developments. Each story is interwoven with the latest in brain science, told in a manner that is both simple and compelling. It may be hard to imagine that a book so rich in science can also be a page-turner, but this one is hard to set down.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 9 2008
The history of Sigmund Freud's approach to the mechanisms of the mind has exhibited some tumultuous changes over the past century. Norman Doidge reminds us that Freud developed a thesis about the mind's plasticity over time. Freud's psychotherapy - irrespective of some questionable methods - was designed to allow the mind to search within itself and change outward behaviour by identifying memories hidden or repressed. However, after Freud, researchers using diagnoses of stroke or brain-injury victims, "mapped" areas in the brain for function. The first of these was the speech-producing region now named Broca's Area, after Paul Broca, its discoverer in the mid-19th century. Brain modularity, or "localization" as Doidge deems it, became the norm in brain research for decades following Broca. In this fine account of the history or recent brain studies, Doidge addresses a new concept being used to both treat and train - brain "plasticity".

Rewiring of the brain isn't a new concept. Among the more famous examples of how the brain reacts to challenges from the rest of the body is the concept known as "phantom limbs". Patients suffering amputations have complained of itchiness or pain seeming to emanate from the lost limb. V.S. Ramachandran and his colleagues have described this phenomenon in detail. "Rama" is but one of the researchers Doidge parades in a receiving line of innovative cognitive specialists. One of his more noteworthy is Michael Merzenich, who Doidge declares is the "world's leading researcher in brain plasticity". Merzenich followed the work of Wilder Penfield at McGill University in Montreal. Penfield used electrical probes to map the regions of the brain to identify which areas produced specific reactions. Penfield's work reinforced the consensus regarding "localization".
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By William O. Haflidson on Jan. 10 2008
Format: Paperback
A great book that covers brain science in easy terms. It would probably be a bit heavy for most readers. I found the authors frequent references to Freud's ideas that have largely been debunked in recent years disconcerting.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Danielle on May 24 2007
Dr. Doidge's book provides you with an excellent insight into the world of neuroplasticity, or the world of the malleable brain. Although it has many great examples illustrating the "plasticity" of the brain, the reader should have some backround knowledge of the nervous system to fully comprehend the concepts, although it is explained to some extent in the book. An excellent read, one that i would encourage all to read
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