Saturday, January 3, 2009

Brain Plasticity

Last night I finished reading "The Brain that Changes Itself" by Norman Doidge

I absolutely love this book, I found it fascinating. The book explores the wonder of "Brain Plasticity" - The Brain's ability to change and re-wire/restructure itself in order to compensate for damage, environment or change in culture for example. There are many interesting examples to draw upon that illustrate the complex nature of this subject area. I found Chapter Four "Aquiring Tastes and Loves" particularly interesting. Based on the well established belief that "neurons that fire together, wire together" this chapter gives an interesting perspective on sexual attraction, habits (both good and bad) and why the brain has the capacity to change itself, but for rather obvious reasons, rarely does. There is a great deal of very interesting thought regarding online pornography and the effect it's having on many couples' sex lives. An increasing amount of men in particular are finiding this addiction is taking over there lives. This is also explained arguabley by a conclusion that mentions how the medium is more powerfull than the message. The internet like anything, has both positive and extremely dangerous consequences to conisder in light of recent evidence.

Throughout the book, but particularly towards the end, there is a lot of Neurological information about the differences between left and right hemisphere. A young girl had been born with no left hemisphere and her brain managed to adapt, there were however noticable problems which illustrate the way in which the brain's tasks are usually divided.

The section regarding "Phantom limbs" and pain was fascinating, especially the ways in which some of these patients were eventually helped. The chapter that explored the imagination explains how thinking about certain forms of physical activity/movement can have the same effects as it uses the same areas of the brain which, quite often cannot tell the difference.

There is a great deal of information about mental Illness and potential ways that can treat various symptoms such as O.C.D. I can admit that it did (quite often throughout the book actually) seem to make these solutions a bit too straight forward and simplistic, but I thin that was a reflection of the tone of the book (positive) more than anything else. I think it does accept there are exceptions and limitations, but I was happy to bask in the positivity of it's message. All I could say is that it's a little bit too exclusive of the limitations some of these solutions have in some areas, but as a whole, the books gives out a brilliant message to keep the brain active by shaking up your routine and trying new things. Reading this in a week compunded with watching "Yes Man" at the cinema yesterday has seriously contributed to giving me a wake-up call with regards to trying and learning new things.


SM Kovalinsky said...

Thanks for this, Martin; nicely written. This whole field of brain plasticity has many ramifications. What you say about pornography affecting couples has another side as well: I have seen in females from my generation to yours - those born in the period between 1960 and 1980 - that exposure to pornography ( in the past , wives and girlfriends were not exposed to this purely male realm ) has change the way women view themselves and sex, and I think it is due to the brain's reaction to the images, which VCR and Internet began to make accessible in the '80s and '90s. Excellent, Martin.

Jesamyn said...

Hi Hurly!! Sounds like a GREAT book, I really do believe that today's youth is brainwashed by the violent games and movies depicted as the "norm" The very term "brainwashed seems to deliver a picture of a sea of images, good or bad, washing through the cells!The brain certainly does compensate for many things and I must read this book.Regards Jesamyn

SM Kovalinsky said...

He is a good writer, isn't he? I am proud to have him blog for me. Speak soon, Jez. Thanks for your visit.

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