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For many dark years, we scientists believed that the brain was a static organ. It peaked in childhood, then slowly decayed through our life. Today, luckily, we know better!
Our brain, that is the center of our being—the organ that separates us from all other life on this planet—is known to be highly adaptive. It is not built with cold hard-wiring like the super-computers with which we’re all increasingly familiar. Instead, it is a dynamic organ that dramatically adapts its inner working, giving you the capacity for radical transformation throughout your life.
We refer to this property as neuroplasticity.
The brain is not elastic—an organ that can stretch, only to snap back into its original shape once the stretch-stimulus is ended. Instead, it is plastic—pliable enough for us to bend and shape, throughout our lives, to serve our current needs.
Norman Doidge, M.D. describes the emergence of neuroplasticity theory in his fascinating book, The Brain that Changes Itself. He travels through pioneering laboratories to interview key scientists that have driven the neuroplasticity revolution … and to meet their research subjects!
If you read the book, you will learn important overarching principals relevant to anyone that owns a brain. You will understand the implications of “use-it-or-lose-it”. You will learn about competitive plasticity and the struggle for precious real estate that happens every day within your central nervous system. You will appreciate the significance of critical periods in brain development, and understand why we parents obsess about creating the best educational contexts for our children. You will grasp the science of learning and unlearning, and its significance in the development of good and bad habits.
This is a serious book. Although initially published 10 years ago, the content remains current and important. The author introduces the reader to the deep science behind brain maps, brain traps, brain lock and the plastic paradox.
While the material can be a little challenging at times, Doidge is, or at least was, a practicing psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. The text is littered with clinical examples that demonstrate the relevance of the underlying science. The book carries the appropriate subtitle: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science. The reader will encounter, through vivid clinical descriptions the lives of real people with autism, sensory loss like blindness and deafness, obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as lively tales of love and lust.
With exquisite sensitivity, you will meet Michelle, a beautiful young woman who was born with only half a brain. Despite this seemingly overwhelming predicament, she is remarkably functional—a resounding testament to the extraordinary plasticity of the human brain (and spirit)!
You will be left with a prevailing sense of optimism for the future of neuroscience, and a deep belief that many of your own struggles are surmountable.
10 years ago, I chose to make massive changes in my life. During this period, I stumbled across several major insights and personal breakthroughs that shed new light on the way my brain was working. This provoked my curiosity, and I have spent the subsequent years expanding my understanding of fundamental and applied neuroscience.
Today, I work with high-performing clients. Some seek performance tweaks; others strive for radical transformation.
My coaching guides them to unlock hidden potential. In each case, I help my clients to understand optimal brain function. More importantly, we modify their beliefs, attitudes and actions, by embracing the incredible plasticity that Mother Nature has incorporated into our wondrous design.
When you can see your brain as a lump of immensely powerful clay, your future truly is in your own hands!