Brain Science Podcast discussion

The Brain's Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity
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2015 > BSP 116 Norman Doidge

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message 1: by Virginia (new)

Virginia MD (gingercampbell) | 321 comments Mod
I have just posted BSP 116. It is an interview with Norman Doidge Dr. Norman Doidge about his new book The Brain's Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity. We explore both the promise and challenge of taking brain plasticity from the lab into clinical medicine.

Show notes for BSP 116

Listen to mp3

message 2: by John (last edited Mar 29, 2015 09:20AM) (new)

John Brown | 52 comments Thanks for this interview. My recent experience might be of interest. For 3 years I have been briskly walking 4 or 5 times a week, in a circular path involving 5 hills for 40 minutes. Last summer I decided to lose a lot of weight. I did the walk 7 times a week, and stopped eating cheese and cut back on meat and wine, and lost 2.5 stone, getting me to a BMI of 25.

When the loss was around 1.5 stone, walking got very much easier and at the top of a hill I just wanted to keep going. This puzzled me, until I realised that the outer surface of my abdomen was about 12 inches away from my spine. This is nowhere pointed out on any web-site on exercise and slimming. So any weight put on in that area will exert a big torque on the upper body, requiring that the ankles, knees and calf, thigh and core muscles work harder to keep an upright posture. I would imagine that the computational load on the cerebellum and parietal lobe would be very much increased. All the inherent stability of the upright posture, pointed out in early hominid skeletons like Lucy, will be compromised.

Lose just 1.5 stone, and all this improves. As I became fitter, my pulse would no longer hit 130 at the top of each hill, and my resting blood pressure started to rise a bit. So I started jogging up the hills, getting the pulse back to 130 to 135. The first time it was quite devastating, affecting my vision as well as suppressing all thought processes. But the very next time I tried it, all these problems disappeared, I assume since my glial cells had diverted blood to save functioning of the occipital lobes without which a brachiating primate would quickly lose its grip and fall to its death.

I have now jogged on 55 separate occasions, but doing only 4.5 minutes on each one. This approaches high intensity interval training (HIIT). Growth in leg muscles has been enormous, and now, for the first time in my life, I actually enjoy jogging. That saying that the patter of feet is de-stressing, is now proving true, now that every foot-fall could no longer involve a twisted ankle. My balance is much better and my knees and ankles have tightened up.

I am noticing that hair is starting to regrow on the top of my head. The problem now is, I really need to know what is happening to my body just after jogging. Some days I overdo it and am exhausted for the whole evening, and just eating fruit to put up my blood-sugar does not help. So it must be hormonal. But so many hormones are involved. Endorphins, insulin, IGF-1 (and I suppose IGF-2 and so on), VEGF and Human Growth Hormone spring to mind, but I cannot find any guidance on this, apart from John Ratey's book that I think I remember mentions only VEGF and stem cell movement in the brain. My blood pressure has dropped by around 4/5 mm. and I put that down to increases in endothelial progenitor cells, which Ratey unfortunately does not discuss. There is a lot of new stuff to know here.

I have just replayed the Ratey podcast, and in fact he does mention all the hormones listed above. He also mentions HIIT, but says the optimum interval or duration has not yet been worked out. I must dig out the book and re-read it.

message 3: by Stuart (new)

Stuart Harris | 2 comments I listened to the recent Norman Doidge BSP with great interest, plus the earlier one (thanks to premium subscription). I also bought Dr Doidge's first book and am most of the way through it.

Then today I read an interview with Dr Doidge in the Guardian. Several of the comments got me wondering, particularly as one of the commenters is Dr. Adam Rutherford.

The essence of the critical comments is that 1) the notion of neuroplasticity in adulthood has long been accepted in scientific circles, 2) neuroplasticity itself is both hyped and misunderstood and 3) Dr Doidge is a bit too keen on self-publicity.

message 4: by John (last edited Mar 30, 2015 11:46AM) (new)

John Brown | 52 comments I haven't read Doidge's book, but the interview rings bells in terms of what I have read elsewhere, particularly regarding the "noisy brain". My cousin had a benign brain tumour removed, and lost some of his brain region necessary to read. I found Dr.Caplan's book "Language: Structure, Processing, and Disorders (Issues in the Biology of Language and Cognition)". This put forward (in 1996) the now generally-accepted model that involves 8 separate dictionaries, classifiable in a binary tree by distinguishing between input/output, text/speech, and whole-word/part-word. My cousin had lost his whole-word text input dictionary. If he closed his eyes, he could from memory write out the addresses on his Christmas cards, but if he opened them, the "noise" from the damaged dictionary made the task impossible.

He was assigned a speech therapist (a rare resource) who in two years got him back to the point where he could read the Daily Telegraph. Since that put him in a group of only 10% of the population, the therapist felt she had done her job and she left him to it.

A recent TV program showed a person with spinal damage who could not walk. But with an electrical device that suppressed communication between the brain and the spinal cord below the damage point, the limited processing in the cord took over and (albeit slow) walking became possible.
An obviously exciting possibility is that computer software could be written to do the work of the therapist, so that the patient could recover by their own efforts. That might even be done in spinal damage cases, using robotic exoskeletons.

I read recently that students with learning difficulties are often found to have noisy hearing circuits. Only when this is cured (I think it was by better nutrition) can they learn the phoneme sequences that allow them to use language efficiently.

At the following URL, an Oxford neuroscientist describes how he developed therapies for dyslexia involving coloured glasses and fish oil.
(This site seems to have a problem at the moment. It was working about 8 weeks ago)

There does seem to be a story there worth telling, that addresses advances over the last 20 years.

message 5: by Stuart (new)

Stuart Harris | 2 comments Thanks to reading The Brain that Changes Itself and now The Brain that Heals Itself, I have started checking out Feldenkrais training locally.

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