Book Review- The Brain That Changes Itself: Norman Doidge

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The Brain that changes itself recounts various people’s stories of overcoming serious conditions.  Some for instance have suffered serious strokes, whilst others are unable to walk.  The problem with each of these people in the various narratives is that they have suffered some injury or issue in various sections of their brains.

And this is where the books main point emerges.  Traditionally scientists and physicians have believed that the brain was localised and each section had its own function.  Therefore damaging one part of the brain meant you would lose the function it was responsible for.  However with recent technology and these remarkable stories, Norman Doidge show that the brain is plastic.  This means it can compensate for lost or damaged areas through rewiring neurons. This has huge implications for neuroscience, but for humans as a whole.

It means that through training and various exercises, stroke victims who have been told they will never walk again, may in fact go back to their normal lives.  Norman Doidge shows us a vast array of patients or victims who have been given crushing news and have subsequently gone on to live relatively happy lives after.

I loved this book and would recommend it to everyone to read.  I think its message is profound and inspiring and challenges a lot of preconceptions related to the brain.  It is however a challenging book as it gets quite technical in sections.  However his writing style and interesting real life stories never makes the challenge boring.  Another tiny criticism is the long length of many of the chapters.  However these are minor issues when compared to how much enjoyment I had reading the book and the knowledge it provides in a field where I had little to none before.

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