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The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science (James H. Silberman Books)by Norman Doidge
Synopses & Reviews
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 theyve transformedpeople whose mental limitations or brain damage were seen as unalterable. We see a woman born with half a brain that rewired itself to work as a whole, blind people who learn to see, learning disorders cured, IQs raised, aging brains rejuvenated, stroke patients learning to speak, children with cerebral palsy learning to move with more grace, depression and anxiety disorders successfully treated, and lifelong character traits changed. Using these marvelous stories to probe mysteries of the body, emotion, love, sex, culture, and education, Dr. Doidge has written an immensely moving, inspiring book that will permanently alter the way we look at our brains, human nature, and human potential.
"For years the doctrine of neuroscientists has been that the brain is a machine: break a part and you lose that function permanently. But more and more evidence is turning up to show that the brain can rewire itself, even in the face of catastrophic trauma: essentially, the functions of the brain can be strengthened just like a weak muscle. Scientists have taught a woman with damaged inner ears, who for five years had had 'a sense of perpetual falling,' to regain her sense of balance with a sensor on her tongue, and a stroke victim to recover the ability to walk although 97% of the nerves from the cerebral cortex to the spine were destroyed. With detailed case studies reminiscent of Oliver Sachs, combined with extensive interviews with lead researchers, Doidge, a research psychiatrist and psychoanalyst at Columbia and the University of Toronto, slowly turns everything we thought we knew about the brain upside down. He is, perhaps, overenthusiastic about the possibilities, believing that this new science can fix every neurological problem, from learning disabilities to blindness. But Doidge writes interestingly and engagingly about some of the least understood marvels of the brain." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"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 neuro-rehabilitation. 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 Sacks
"The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-working, reality-busting stuff, with implications, as Dr. Doidge notes, not only for individual patients with neurologic disease but for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history." New York Times
"[Doidge] links scientific experimentation with personal triumph in a way that inspires awe for the brain, and for these scientists' faith in its capacity. A valuable compilation of work that seeks to prove the unsung adaptability of our most mysterious organ. Readers will want to read entire sections aloud and pass the book on to someone who can benefit from it." Washington Post
"Lucid and absolutely fascinating....[Doidge is] able to explain current research in neuroscience with clarity and thoroughness." Chicago Tribune
"Doidge provides a history of the research in this growing field, highlighting scientists at the edge of groundbreaking discoveries and telling fascinating stories of people who have benefited." Psychology Today
Is science ever enough to explain why we feel the way we feel?
In this engaging account, renowned neuroscientist Giovanni Frazzetto blends cutting-edge scientific research with personal stories to reveal how our brains generate our emotions. He demonstrates that while modern science has expanded our knowledge, investigating art, literature, and philosophy is equally crucial to unraveling the brainand#8217;s secrets. What can a brain scan, or our reaction to a Caravaggio painting, reveal about the deep seat of guilt? Can ancient remedies fight sadness more effectively than antidepressants? What can writing poetry tell us about how joy works? Structured in seven chapters encompassing common human emotionsand#151;anger, guilt, anxiety, grief, empathy, joy, and loveand#151;Joy, Guilt, Anger, Love offers a way of thinking about science and art that will help us to more fully understand ourselves and how we feel.
The dramatic story of one manand#8217;s recovery offers new hope to those suffering from concussions and other brain traumas
and#160;In 1999, Clark Elliott suffered a concussion when his car was rear-ended. Overnight his life changed from that of a rising professor with a research career in artificial intelligence to a humbled man struggling to get through a single day. At times he couldnand#8217;t walk across a room, or even name his five children. Doctors told him he would never fully recover.and#160; After eight years, the cognitive demands of his job, and of being a single parent, finally became more than he could manage. As a result of one final effort to recover, he crossed paths with two brilliant Chicago-area research-cliniciansand#151;one a specialized optometrist, the other a cognitive psychologistand#151;working on the leading edge of brain plasticity. He was substantially improved within weeks.
Remarkably, Elliott kept detailed notes throughout his experience, from the moment of impact to the final stages of his recovery, astounding documentation that is the basis of this fascinating book.and#160;The Ghost in My Brainand#160;gives hope to the millions who suffer from head injuries each year, and provides a unique and informative window into the worldand#8217;s most complex computationaland#160;device: the human brain.
About the Author
Norman Doidge, M.D., is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and researcher on the faculty at the University of Toronto's Department of Psychiatry and the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research in New York, as well as an author, essayist, and poet. He is a four-time recipient of Canada's National Magazine Gold Award. He divides his time between Toronto and New York.
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