I recently read The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge, M.D. (2007).
In this book Dr. Doidge reviews the most current findings of brain research, and takes us inside the minds and work of some of the pioneers in the field of brain therapy.
Some of my biggest takeaways:
> Science is now providing irrefutable evidence that the brain has the ability to remap, reroute, and reorder itself in very significant ways.
> This dynamic of malleability is known as “neuroplasticity.”
> Neuroplasticity is not limited by age; the process can even occur in aging and aged brains.
> We can only affect long-term brain change through the intense paying of attention; divided attention does not lead to long-lasting change in brain mapping.
> When learning a new skill, mental practice is as beneficial as actual physical practice.
> Neurons that fire together, wire together.
> Novelty and learning new things is a requirement for continued brain health.
> The brain is shaped by culture; and culture is shaped by the brain.
My favorite quote:
“It [the brain] doesn’t simply learn; it is always ‘learning how to learn.’ The brain Merzenich describes is not an inanimate vessel that we fill; rather it is more like a living creature with an appetite, one that can grow and change itself with proper nourishment and exercise.” (p. 47)
Hope for many. Clear guidance on the power of learning new stuff for all of us.