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

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  30,420 ratings  ·  2,117 reviews

Meet the ninety year old doctor, who, with the aid of a few simple exercises, is still practising medicine. His is just one of the incredible stories brain expert Norman Doidge tells as he reveals our brain's remarkable ability to repair itself through the power of positive thought.

In The Brain That Changes Itself Doidge introduces us to the fascinating stories at the cut

...more
Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Published (first published March 15th 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 t…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)
Chris Christian missed him... no doubt he will return, promoting the sequel,
"the brain that changes itself back"…more
missed him... no doubt he will return, promoting the sequel,
"the brain that changes itself back"(less)
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Trevor
Nov 21, 2008 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
...more
Rebecca
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."

and

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
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Nicky
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
...more
Mike
Mar 24, 2008 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
...more
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
...more
Mario Tomic
Nov 25, 2014 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
...more
Bettie

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
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Marion
May 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
David
Dec 17, 2009 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.
Lily
Jun 12, 2008 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
...more
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
The good book explains the discovery of neuroplasticity in recent years. The brain can change itself a lot more than we used to think. It is more plastic and can shift function to other areas when damaged and learn new skills and permanently change its wiring. I thought the section on sexual imprinting was interesting. Early sexual experiences can show up in lifelong preferences in males in terms of what they are influenced to find desirable in a mate. Lots of other tidbits that show that thing ...more
Merilee
Jan 26, 2009 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
...more
Blair
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
...more
Beth
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We can alter the structure of our brains, at will, by the way we behave and think. This radical truth entered mainstream neuroscience about 30 years ago, finally shattering the earlier belief in fixed regions of the brain.

“Neurons that fire together wire together.” If repeated, the connections get stronger. Unused connections wither away – use it or lose it. Therein lies what Doidge calls the ‘Plastic Paradox’. With commitment, we can expand our brains by learning new skills, at any age, and ope
...more
Farha Crystal
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Neuroplasticity as a double-edged sword can cause flexibility or rigidity to the brain tissues.

Neurons in the brain connect themselves as you use them. Each brain function is competing for limited resources and there is limited mapping space. So, what you have worked on the most gets developed. It's similar to physical exercise, the more you practice it in a certain way, the more you will get flexible in certain body parts resulting in more automaticity and the reduction of resources necessary
...more
Amy
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
...more
Michael Perkins
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Conservatives are an especially fear-prone group. In a 2008 paper in the journal Science, researchers subjected a group of adults with strong political beliefs to a set of startling noises and graphic images. Those with the strongest physical reactions were more likely to support capital punishment, defense spending and the war in Iraq.

A 2011 paper in the journal Cell found a correlation between conservative leanings and the size of the right amygdala, the portion of the brain that processes em
...more
Shaun
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
...more
Jafar
Dec 20, 2008 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
Dawn
Jan 08, 2015 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.
Gail
Feb 10, 2013 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
...more
Amanda
Nov 14, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hmmm..... This book started out quite interesting but unfortunately I haven't been able to continue reading it. The description of testing on animals started in Chapter 3 and continued in Chapter 4. As an animal lover and animal rights campaigner, I just could not bear to read the detailed descriptions of the torture these poor animals were put through.
Sato
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in three different positions and each position in a particular angle to the screen. The interesting thing I noticed is that when I changed the usual angle, I was having more struggle to track down the lines and the content and a following significant change in the pace. Over the course of reading, I could see an improvement in reading in different angles which was pretty much proportional to the content of this book, Plasticity. Brain plasticity is truly a gift, which allows us ...more
H.A. Leuschel
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating book about the malleability of the brain.

The author presents a variety of case studies that show that an individual's mind can fix what is wrong with the brain. This is down to the idea that the brain has a plasticity with the capability to heal and alter at any time during a person's life. Examples are patients with phantom limb pain, OCD sufferers, blindness, pain management etc. who all benefited from a neuroplastic therapeutic approach to improve their condition.
It's an inspi
...more
Kirsten
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
Whitney
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, books-i-own
An incredibly insightful novel into the new wave of Neuroplasticity. Once upon a time the brain was considered a single part of the body shaped & unchanged into adulthood. This body of work enlightens us to the great organ that is the BRAIN an everchanging miraculous part of our body ...more
Lcbogota
Mar 19, 2009 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
Koen Crolla
The Brain that Changes Itself is nominally about neuroplasticity and our growing understanding of it, but if you like your pop sci to have its emphasis on the sci rather than the pop, it's probably not the best book for you to be reading.

It's important to keep in mind that the subtitle is ``Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science''; the main purpose of it is not to inform, but to make you feel good about what the human body can do. And unsurprisingly, a lot of the time th
...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
Oct 27, 2011 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
♥ Ibrahim ♥
It seems like that this book has become a classic and one can read it over and over again for a dose of encouragement about the brain and its plasticity and that there is nothing impossible with God. Everything can change for the best and all the long-held theories have been largely proven wrong and it is never too late for the brain to do many wonderful things, despite anything in the big, wide world!
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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.

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