The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science Paperback – December 18, 2007
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—The New York Times
“Brilliant...Doidge has identified a tidal shift in basic science...The implications are monumental.”
—The London Times
“Fascinating. Doidge’s book is a remarkable and hopeful portrait of the endless adaptability of the human brain.”
—Oliver Sacks, MD
“Lucid and absolutely fascinating. It satisfies in equal measure the mind and heart.”
—The Chicago Tribune
"An utterly wonderful book—without question one of the most important books about the brain you will ever read; yet it is beautifully written, immensely approachable, and full of humanity. Its message is one of hope: it is not just our brains that shape our thinking, but our thinking that, very definitely, shapes our brains."
—Iain McGilchrist MA (Oxon), BM, FRCPsych, FRSA author of The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World
“Two years ago, when the journal Cerebrum at the Dana Foundation in the US updated its list of great books about the brain for the general reader, it found there were already 30,000 brain-related books in English. Aided by scientific advisers and readers, it produced a new list - with The Brain That Changes Itself at No. 1.”
—The Melbourne Age
“Doidge turns everything we thought we knew about the brain upside down.”
“Brilliant...This book is a wonderful and engaging way or re-imagining what kind of creatures we are.”
—Jeanette Winterson, novelist, Order of the British Empire, Guardian, Best Book of 2008
“Superb. Brilliant. I devoured it.”
—V.S. Ramachandran, MD, PHD, Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, Univeristy of California, San Diego, Author of Phantoms of the Brain
“Doidge... is a master ... at explaining science to the rest of us. Doidge is the best possible guide. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to read it, just curious about your brain. Buy this book. Your brain will thank you.”
—The Globe and Mail
“Readers will want to read entire sections aloud and pass the book on to someone who can benefit from it. [Doidge] links scientific experimentation with personal triumph in a way that inspires awe”
“Doidge 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 a new age. 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.”
—Jeff Zimman, Posit Science, e-newsletter
“The most readable and best general treatment of this subject to date.”
—Michael M. Merzenich, Ph.D., Keck Center for Integrative Neurosciences University of California at San Francisco
“A riveting, essential book… These stories are most emotionally satisfying. Doidge addresses how cultural influences literally "shape" our brain. [And]….our response to the world around us is not only a social or psychological phenomenon, but often a lasting neurological process.”
—Montreal Gazette, Liam Durcan, MD, Neurologist & Novelist
“A hymn to life.”
“The Brain That Changes Itself...is without question the most important book of the year, and maybe the most important book we have ever read.”
—Kiril Sokoloff, 13D Research Inc
“This books is like discovering that the earth isn’t flat.”
—Gretel Killeen, Sun Herald, “The Books That Changed Me”
“A rich banquet of brain-mind plasticity, communicated in a brilliantly clear writing style.”
—Jaak Panksepp, Ph.D., Head, Affective Neuroscience Research, Falk Center for Molecular Therapeutics, Northwestern University;
“A masterfully guided tour through the burgeoning field of neuroplasticity research.”
“Norman Doidge has shown that what and how we think can change our brains. He has illuminated the foundations of psychological healing.”
—Charles Hanly, Ph.D.President, International Psychoanalytical Association
“Astonishing. This book will inevitably draw comparisons to the work of Oliver Sacks. Doidge has a prodigious gift for rendering the highly technical highly readable. It's hard to imagine a more exciting topic--or a better introduction to it.”
—Kitchener Waterloo Record
“Perfect for fans of Oliver Sacks”
—Quill & Quire
“Beautifully written and brings life and clarity to a variety of neuropsychiatric problems that affect children and adults... It reads a bit like a science detective story and -you do not need a Ph.D. to benefit from the wisdom imparted here.”
—Barbara Milrod, M.D. Psychiatry, Weill Medical College, Cornell University, New York
“A panoramic examination of plasticity's profound implications. “
—Toronto Daily Star
“An eloquently written book about the boundless potential of the human brain.
—The Jewish Week
“Norman Doidge has written a fascinating, highly readable account of the new brain science.”
—John Cornwell, Literary Review, England
“You really should read this book... this remarkable work will lead us to see ourselves in a new light.”
—Mail on Sunday, England
“An 'essential primer’ for anyone who wants to better understand their own brains and the considerable advances in neuroscience of the past two decades.”
“A book that everybody should read... it is nothing short of miraculous. Get it!”
—Yoko Ono, Yoko Reads Book Recommendations
“Fascinating … Doidge has accomplished a rare feat. He has written a book that accurately conveys cutting-edge scientific discoveries while simultaneously engaging both scientific and popular audiences.”
“A remarkable book ... a highly readable exploration of a branch of science that has the potential to change all our lives.”
“Why isn't this book on the top of the bestseller list of all time? The recognition that the brain in plastic and can actually change itself with exercise and understanding is a huge leap in the history or mankind, far greater than landing on the moon.”
—Jane S. Hall, International Psychoanalysis
“Only a few decades ago, scientists considered the brain to be fixed or ‘hardwired’ and considered most forms of brain damage, therefore, to be incurable. Dr. Doidge, an eminent psychiatrist and researcher, was struck by how his patients’ own transformations belied this and set out to explore the new science of neuroplasticity by interviewing both scientific pioneers in neuroscience, and patients who have benefited from neurorehabilitation. Here he describes in fascinating personal narratives how the brain, far from being fixed, has remarkable powers of changing its own structure and compensating for even the most challenging neurological conditions. Doidge’s book is a remarkable and hopeful portrait of the endless adaptability of the human brain.”
—Oliver Sack, MD, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
About the Author
- Item Weight : 13.6 ounces
- ISBN-13 : 978-0143113102
- Paperback : 427 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780143113102
- Dimensions : 1 x 5.66 x 8.46 inches
- Publisher : Penguin Books; Reprint edition (December 18, 2007)
- Reading level : 8 and up
- Language: : English
- ASIN : 0143113100
- Best Sellers Rank: #12,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The Brain That Changes Itself by Dr. Norman Doidge, M.D. is a book that shows the brain’s ability to change itself. We see that through stories about scientists and doctors who help patients transform their neurological conditions. The stories come from different patients with different types of brain disabilities. They either participated in experiments to test and improve their abilities or have gone through their transformations in other ways. For years the belief that the brain’s anatomy is fixed was considered true. If different parts of the brain were unable to function, they were now considered pointless and carried no function. If brain cells failed to develop effectively, there was no way they could be replaced. This lead to the theory that a person with a brain disability or that suffered brain damage would be damaged for life. However, Dr. Doidge has met scientists that have made discoveries regarding neuroplasticity. If certain parts of the brain failed, other parts can take over and perform that certain function. This book provides proof of real life stories that show that damaged parts of the brain can reorganize themselves and perform different functions that they’re not used to performing.
When I read this book, I noticed that each chapter was a different story from a different patient based on their distinct brain disability. It would also talk about how their brain condition came about and their experience towards it. It would first provide the patient’s name and the condition they have, along with any obstacles they face in their everyday lives. For example, in the first chapter of The Brain That Changes Itself, it introduces a woman named Cheryl Schiltz. The book states, “Cheryl Schiltz feels like she’s perpetually falling. And because she feels like she’s falling, she falls.” As you can see the audience already gets a sense of her condition without reading any other further information. The chapter continues by talking about how Cheryl has difficulty standing up without support and then she immediately falls. But as soon as she falls, she still doesn’t feel like she has hit rock bottom yet. The chapter then goes in depth about the specific disability the patient has and what parts are being affected. For example, the book talks about how Cheryl’s vestibular apparatus isn’t working and how the signals don’t communicate with her nerves very well. The chapters in this book make sure to explain their condition in a neurological perspective to show the relationship between neurons and their condition. Then the chapter transfers to the experimental aspect where Dr. Doidge and his colleagues experiment to find something that may benefit the patient and accommodate them. For example, Dr. Doidge brings out a brain plasticity specialist named Paul Bach-y-Rita and biophysicist Yuri Danilov. To conduct an experiment on Cheryl. They make a construction hat with holes and a device inside it to measure her movement. The chapter then talks about her experience when using this device and how it helped her keep her balance. Then the chapter goes back to the past when Cheryl was first diagnosed with this condition at the hospital. She received news that the condition was permanent. The chapter then talks about how content she was after putting on the helmet. Dr. Doidge then received news that Cheryl used this helmet on her own at home and saw results. She saw that she was standing for hours and the results turned into months. The chapters usually end with the patient’s results in the long run. The science behind the experiments Dr. Doidge and his colleagues do for the patients is accurate because most of the time they do it in a lab setting, and work on machines that can help them through their disability. Dr. Doidge makes claims about how what they’re working on can help the patient’s disability and that is shown when Cheryl’s helmet was being made. He emphasized that this will improve her balance and keep her from falling. The explanations about how the person’s condition will improve is descriptive and talks about it through neuronal pathways. There are also explanations as to why their experiment is being done and what materials they will be using. They describe every aspect of the experiment so the reader can know how it links to their condition. Cheryl’s story is one of many inspiring stories found in this book. By combining many different stories about patients with varying neural disabilities, it can show the reader the magic of brain plasticity and how life changing it can be to people. It may lead them to see how these experiments can lead up to life changing accommodations.
Like previously said, the book is full of chapters that consist in real patient stories and how they overcome it with these experiments. We can see that specific parts of the brain may shut down, but other parts can step in and do the job. With Cheryl’s story, the reader feels as if they are going through this journey alongside the patient, doctors, and scientists. Each chapter talks about a variety of things, but it will intrigue the reader so they know what’s going on, especially on a neuronal level. This book is excellent for people who are into neuroscience and how brain plasticity may change the lives of individuals.
Dr. Norman Doidge shares many different stories through this book showing how the mind and body work together, how we learn, how we unlearn, and how to recover from brain damage. The one word that covers the content of this book is neuroplasticity which is defined as the brains ability to adapt and change its function depending on situation and “rewire” itself should it become damaged.
There are stories of individuals ridding themselves of phantom limbs, recovering from strokes to a degree that was thought impossible, living with half of a brain, curing incurable vertigo, recovering from deep depression, successfully treating learning disabilities, and more. Each story is about a real person – their struggles and triumph, and the practitioners who helped them. There are also cautionary tales about habits and chronic pain conditions.
I would warn the reader that there is discussion of invasive experimentation on animals, and the fact that the material is quite dense at times. All in all, this is a book that can be read cover to cover or story by story while being picked up and set down several times – this is how I read it. The material is interesting enough, and important enough to take one’s time with.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding how the brain works.
Top reviews from other countries
Dogged determination can be a real asset. Read it and find out.