What We Are Reading
December 2020

The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge, M.D.

One of the most extraordinary scientific discoveries of the 20th century is that the human brain is continuously re-mapping itself. Until recently, it was commonly accepted that the brain’s anatomy was fixed and after childhood the only change to expect was a sad process of decline as we aged. The author, a psychoanalyst, excitedly explains how “neurons that fire together, wire together”, and the profound implications of this for victims of stroke, addiction, autism, Alzheimer’s and OCD, and its equally profound lessons around education, professional development, aging, culture and even love.

HIGHLIGHT(S): Paying close attention is essential to long-term plastic change. As we reach middle age, we are more likely to have a solid sense of who we are, be skilled at a career, etc. The downside is that, compared to when we were younger, we are less likely to engage in tasks that require intense focus (like mastering new skills). Performing tasks “automatically” or spreading our attention too thin (e.g. multitasking) prevents changes in the brain from sticking. Over time, this mental inertia can mean a loss of plasticity, likely contributing to declining memory, decreasing attention and even dementia. Tackling new lessons, environments and habits requires us to focus and thus protects our brain and its capacity to function and learn.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Brain-That-Changes-Itself-Frontiers/dp/0143113100/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=The+Brain+That+Changes+Itself&qid=1600910154&s=books&sr=1-2

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