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The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science

4.2  ·  Rating Details ·  21,485 Ratings  ·  1,606 Reviews
“Fascinating. Doidge’s book is a remarkable and hopeful portrait of the endless adaptability of the human brain.” —Oliver Sacks

The discovery that our thoughts can change the structure and function of our brains—even into old age—is the most important breakthrough in neuroscience in four centuries. In this revolutionary look at the brain, bestselling author, psychiatrist, a
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Published June 1st 2008 by Brilliance Audio (first published January 1st 2007)
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Jenny I started reading "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life" and "On Aphasia" by Sigmund Freud. I ordered "Recovery of Function" by Paul Bach-y-Rita and…moreI started reading "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life" and "On Aphasia" by Sigmund Freud. I ordered "Recovery of Function" by Paul Bach-y-Rita and the next one on my list is "Soft Wired" by Michael Merzenich. All of these authors/researchers were discussed in "The Brain That Changes Itself."(less)
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Nov 21, 2008 Trevor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, psychology
When I saw this book initially I thought that I would have nothing but unequivocally good things to say about it. I am very fond of ‘brain’ books and prefer to believe that the mind is ‘plastic’ – that it can change itself or re-wire itself. I haven’t got much to pin this hope on. But hope is a good thing. However, in the end my response to this book has been much less black-and-white than I thought it would be.

I’ve also just finished Fooled By Randomness. This has made me hypersensitive to any
So far this book has taught me two things.

1. That I am far more affected than I expected to be by the phrase "sew a kitten's eyelid closed for three weeks..after which the kitten remained permanently blind in one eye."


2. Using the word "till" instead of "until" is acceptable in scholarly writing.

For the rest of the information, stay tuned.

Okay, so I finished the book. It was a fulfilling emotional rollercoaster for the chronically impressionable and acutely anxious. Every chapter presente
Megan Baxter
Oliver Sacks, he ain't. Despite the back cover blurb from Oliver Sacks, this is definitely a lesser book. There are some interesting things in here, and may be worth a read, even though there was one chapter that I thought was just terrible. But don't go looking here for Sacks' deep humanism and warmth. This is much more the distant case history, although the science he's talking about is fascinating.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enf
Mar 24, 2008 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is about the plasticity of the brain. That is versus "Localizationism" which holds that the brain is static and each part performs only one function. Modern science, thru the use of MRI, Catscan and observed recoveries of function loss have disproved the long-held notion of localizationism.

The book is really a set of stories about people who have regained or developed senses they either lost or never had. The stories are quite inspiring. For example, one man had a stroke and lost the
Content note: discusses some examples you may interpret as animal cruelty.

I have pretty mixed feelings about this book. My main response, I guess, is "read with caution". There are some parts which are reasonable, well-founded, and which don't seem to be driven by any bias. Talking about the ways to help people recover from strokes would fall under this category; I was actually a bit surprised that all of the information about brain maps, and the brain's "use it or lose it" approach to neuronal

travelling mp3, new car and an open road...

Description: 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 they've transformed people whose mental limitations or brain damage were seen as unalterable. We see a woman born with half a brain that rewired itself
محمد العرادي

في تصوري من أهم الكتب التي تعالج نظرتنا للدماغ بعيداً عن التصورات القديمة التي تعتقد بثبات بنية الدماغ - كما هو الحال في باقي أعضاء الجسم- منذ وقت مبكر من العمر وأن خلايا الدماغ عندما تصاب او تموت لا يمكن استبدالها وأصل هذه النظرية أن الدماغ عبارة عن آلة رائعة مثل ماكينة الحلاقة أو المايكرويف يعمل بشكل عظيم ومتقن لكنه لا يستطيع معالجة نفسه ولا ينمو أي أن الجزء المسؤول في الدماغ عن معالجة مايصله من البصر مثلاً يبقى مدى الحياة مسؤول عن معالجة مايصله من خلال البصر. يحاول الدكتور نورمان دويدج في هذا
Dec 17, 2009 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly fascinating, accessible book about the plasticity of the brain. Most interesting to me were the clever approaches that some psychologists invented, for solving or mediating various mental/physical problems. Although this book is not of the "self-help" variety, it contains a number of approaches that have been used for improving brain functioning.
This book was absolutely fascinating. I have always been intrigued by how the brain works and, even though I am not a "science" person, I found this book easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable.

The book is about the recent notion that the brain is "plastic," or malleable. Our brain has the ability to change - through learning, through experience, through our thoughts. It was once thought that the brain was "hardwired," and that certain parts of the brain performed specific tasks and that if those
Jan 26, 2009 Merilee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teachers, those interested in the brain
Recommended to Merilee by: Vicki
This book was amazing. Not a real page-turner, but a fascinating look at the brain's ability to rewire itself and grow/change beyond our expectation.

Praise the Lord who made our brains so complex and adept at fulfilling their purpose!

I especially liked the chapters that dealt with autism, and overcoming disabilities. If you are interested in neuroplasticity, brain maps, or just want some ideas about keeping your brain in shape as you age - you may want to read this book.

(I didn't particularly li
The Brain that Slowly Changes Itself, If You Work Really Hard at It

It was once thought that the brain was a complex machine, with each part performing a single dedicated function. If a part broke you lost that function. This book is about “brain plasticity”, the concept that the brain can change the way it functions. For example, if one goes blind the part of the brain responsible for sight may be re-wired to improve the sense of hearing or touch. As Doidge puts it:

“There is an endless war of n
Mario Tomic
Nov 25, 2014 Mario Tomic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The big idea of the book is the concept of plasticity and how the brain deals with learning and changing multiple skills. In a nutshell each brain function is "fighting" for limited resources, there's only so much mapping space available and what you work on the most gets developed. "Use it or lose it."

Whatever you don't cultivate, over time you will lose, including ability to: cultivate multiple skills, generate new ideas, stay focused, math/science skills, learning a new language, playing an
Jun 12, 2008 Lily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with questions about the brain.
This book was a very interesting read. I found it to be a pretty "light" read, in that the science mumbo-jumbo had been effectively translated into English. But that doesn't mean Doidge's claims are unsupported--throughout the text, and in extensive notes, he cites published research results, giving the book plenty of credibility.

The Brain that Changes Itself discusses the (apparently controversial) subject of neuroplasticity. Although many of its claims seem perfectly intuitive (through mental
رغد قاسم
كتاب مذهل .. من أفضل الكتب العلمية التي قرأتها .. يتضمن تجارب رائعة واحداث وقعية وبعلمية بحتة .. استفدت كثيراً من المعلومات و في الوقت ذاته استمتعت .. يستحق خمس نجوم بجدارة.
Dec 20, 2008 Jafar rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is about neuroplasticity: the idea that our thoughts and experiences can rewire and change the structure of our brains. This may sound like a revolutionary idea in an age when too many people talk about a brain hardwired by our genes, and the author certainly dramatizes this point and wants to portray his book as representing a novel and ground-breaking idea, but somehow what the book says didn’t come across to me as revolutionary as it claims. Maybe because I’ve already read Ramachandr ...more
This is an absolutely fascinating book about how neurologists have discovered in the past thirty years or so that the human brain is much, much more resilient and plastic than it was believed to be for a long time. Neurologists used to think that everyone's brain map was basically the same, with functions like sight or hearing in pretty much the same place, and that if those sections of the brain were damaged, then the function they controlled would be permanently impaired. This didn't explain, ...more
Mar 19, 2009 Lcbogota rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book made me reexamine what I believed about human behavior, in particular our ability to change. The author refers to neuroscience and brain studies to argue that every time we engage in a behavior, we create or reinforce pathways in our brain. Intuitively we know that the more you practice a skill, the better you get at it. The better you get at something, the less effort it takes. Brain scans demonstrate this process. The concept is known as brain plasticity, which means the brain's abil ...more
As scientists have learned more about the brain, they've come to reject the idea that it is a fixed hardwired machine as previously thought, but instead a malleable and flexible structure that can change throughout our lifespan in ways that we are only just beginning to appreciate.

Each chapter in The Brain That Changes Itself deals with a theme that explores the plastic nature of the brain and an individual story that highlights that particular theme. From treating stroke victims to those suffer
Cassandra Kay Silva
Oct 27, 2011 Cassandra Kay Silva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
At least for me, a large portion of my upbringing in anatomy, physiology, and psychology at University lead me to the conclusion that different areas of the brain are hardwired for different things and that from there on out it is pretty much just simon says. Because I knew little about the plasticity of the brain, or much of the notion that this is how the brain worked I think the book really got me around seeing a different side of what a marvelous organ the brain truly is and how complex and ...more
Jul 21, 2008 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jeanne, but my Mom all ready has!
Recommended to Carol by: I stole it from Mom ~ you can have it back now . . .
Having struggled through numerous medical and psyhological studies and texts during my college years, I can safely say that this book is amazing in its straight-forward, educated approach, while still speaking a language that anyone can understand. It would have been incredibly easy to have written this using medical terminology and while some of it is used, it is not done in a "speaking down to you" sort of way.

Doidge is clearly fascinated by his topic and, more importantly, wants the reader t
Feb 10, 2013 Gail rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wasn't sure how to rate this book as I don't usually read non-fiction. It was remarkably easy to read and understand, well set out with a lot of supportive evidence.

It documented the development of the theory of brain plasticity. How various people had played with the idea over time, gaining little or no support. To down right stonings. That last bit might be a slight exaggeration. :). The topics touched on were fascinating.

Mid book I got a little concerned about some areas covered an
Dash Stryker
Sep 10, 2015 Dash Stryker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book gives great science. I'm leery of many applications of the psychodynamic perspective (and Dr. Doidge is a psychoanalyst); as such, I found some of his bridgings of psychoanalysis and neuropsychology to be a little tenuous. However, he makes a great case each time, and the result is always a fascinating conceptualization of the relationship between our lived experiences and the minute mechanics of our most important organ.

Doidge presents a somewhat imbalanced view of Freud as the presci
Jan 08, 2015 Dawn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book so inspiring. As a psychiatrist, not much of the subject matter was new, but Doige has compiled decades of research into a readable book about how amazing and adaptable the brain is. I must say that it has really made me think not only about how neuroplasticity affects my clinical practice, but also how it influences myself, my children and my family.
Mar 07, 2012 Jodi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health-books
The book gives the message that all sorts of amazing things can be done through lots of brain retraining work, but doesn't claim that it is a quick and easy cure for everything either, which I appreciated.

Some people are taking the idea of neuroplasticity and running with it and maybe going a bit too far and claiming that we can retrain our brains to be any way we want (such as choosing our sexuality), and to use it to cure completely every neurological disease. It is disturbing. But this book d
Nov 24, 2008 C. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science, 2011
Given that I'm unlikely to study a popular science book in order to commit to memory the details, I consider it to be a success if it influences my general knowledge of an area; my understanding of its underlying assumptions or principles. In that respect, this book failed: nothing it said changed or contradicted my understanding of the brain and neuroplasticity.

It was, nonetheless, quite interesting, though badly written in many places, and it did expand my understanding of the breadth of appl
Hannah Crowther
Mar 31, 2008 Hannah Crowther rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating book discussing the human brain's incredible potential for change -- called plasticity. As I read it, I felt like I was reading about the beginnings of a huge revolution in our understanding of what the brain is capable of and how to cure disorders of the brain.

I felt like I was also able to correct some of my outdated knowledge. For example, the brain does grow new neurons -- you're not born with all you will have for the rest of your life. Also, there are not strict are
Mar 10, 2013 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must-read for anyone in healthcare. An interesting and important read for everyone else. Cleverly done - he takes real stories about people who have changed their brains, the way they move, communicate, think, act, etc., and discusses the science behind it. He does this in an easy, fascinating way. Another interesting aspect is his discussion on the history behind neuroplasticity. We have known for years that our brain can change.
When I became a nurse we were taught that your brain is
Mar 26, 2009 Siri is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This book is so dense and fascinating! It really makes you realize 1.) how little we know about how the brain works and 2.) how much possibility there is for making huge strides in things like brain injury and mental illness even based on that small amount that we now know.
Amazing from both a lay and scientific perspective and introduced me to some authors/neuroscientists (e.g. VS Ramachandran) whose work I continue to follow and enjoy.
Hayder Hasan
Mar 03, 2016 Hayder Hasan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simply a masterpiece.
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Norman Doidge, M.D., is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, researcher, author, essayist and poet.

He is on the Research Faculty at Columbia University’s Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, in New York, and the University of Toronto’s Department of Psychiatry.

He is a native of Toronto.
More about Norman Doidge...

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“Psychoanalysis is often about turning our ghosts into ancestors, even for patients who have not lost loved ones to death. We are often haunted by important relationships from the past that influence us unconsciously in the present. As we work them through, they go from haunting us to becoming simply part of our history.” 30 likes
“The brain is a far more open system than we ever imagined, and nature has gone very far to help us perceive and take in the world around us. It has given us a brain that survives in a changing world by changing itself.” 26 likes
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