Looking for a full, FREE The Brain That Changes Itself summary?
You're in the right place!
Here's what you'll find on this page...
Note: This The Brain That Changes Itself summary is part of an ongoing project to summarise the Best Learning Books of all time.
The Brain That Changes Itself Summary
In the past, the brain has been thought of as mostly hard-wired and unchanging. But evidence is increasingly confirming that it’s more malleable than ever imagined.
In fact, the brain is less like a machine, and more like a complex organism. It continuously adapts to the unique combination of stimuli, thoughts and activities we encounter in life.
This structural and functional neuroplasticity takes place in every part of the brain and at every level of its organisation – from the activity of its cells and neural networks to the specialisation of its regions and hemispheres.
And though heightened in critical periods (e.g., youth, falling in love, beginning parenting) and reduced in others (e.g., after adolescence, in senesce), neuroplasticity never stops – the brain changes constantly, throughout our entire lives.
We are just now beginning to understand the structures (e.g., neuroglia, hippocampus, basal forebrain), pathways (e.g., LTP, LTD, myelination) and chemicals (e.g., BDNF, oxytocin, dopamine) that enable and regulate neuroplasticity.
And yet this understanding has already and will have significant consequences for rethinking many aspects of our lives – from our innate or acquired abilities to our characters and even our sexual preferences.
What’s more, from blindness and deafness to learning disabilities, autism, strokes, chronic pain and Alzheimer’s, there are few dark corners of mental health into which the science of neuroplasticity doesn’t promise to bring light and hope.
It is this story and a glimpse into just these consequences that Doidge offers us in 11 chapters, two appendices and extensive notes in his excellent book, The Brain That Changes Itself.
A key takeaway for your day? Your brain is a muscle – exercise and mental activity strengthen and sustain both it and its ongoing ability to learn.
If you keep learning – no matter who or how old you are – you will retain the ability to learn. If you stop learning, you will lose that ability, along with everything else it enables.
The Brain That Changes Itself Contents
The physiology and pharmacology of neuroplasticity was my absolute favourite topic at university. Nonetheless, three hours was far too little time to get fully into this wonderfully well-researched and well-written book. I’ll definitely be back for a fuller book summary later.
For now, here’s a peek at the contents to remind you (and me) of what’s inside:
- Preface – An Introduction to Neuroplasticity
- Ch. 1 – A Woman Perpetually Falling
Rescued by the Man Who Discovered the Plasticity of Our Senses
- Ch. 2 – Building Herself a Better Brain
A Woman Labeled “Retarded” Discovers How to Heal Herself
- Ch. 3 – Redesigning the Brain
A Scientist Changes Brains to Sharpen Perception and Memory, Increase Speed of Thought and Heal Learning Problems
- Ch. 4 – Acquiring Tastes and Loves
What Neuroplasticity Teaches Us About Sexual Attraction and Love
- Ch. 5 – Midnight Resurrections
Stroke Victims Learn to Move and Speak Again
- Ch. 6 – Brain Lock Unlocked
Using Plasticity to stop Worries, Obsessions, Compulsions and Bad Habits
- Ch. 7 – Pain
The Dark Side of Plasticity
- Ch. 8 – Imagination
How Thinking Makes It So
- Ch. 9 – Turning Our Ghosts into Ancestors
Psychoanalysis as Neuroplastic Therapy
- Ch. 10 – Rejuvenation
The Discovery of the Neuronal Stem Cell and Lessons for Preserving Our Brains
- Ch. 11 – More than the Sum of Her Parts
A Woman Shows Us How Radically Plastic the Brain Can Be
- Appendix 1 – The Culturally Modified Brain
- Appendix 2 – Plasticity and the Idea of Progress
- Notes and References – Detailed and interesting notes, by page and point.
Best The Brain That Changes Itself Quotes
These The Brain That Changes Itself quotes come from The Art of Living's ever-growing central library of thoughts, anecdotes, notes, and inspirational quotes.
"Psychoanalysis is often about turning our ghosts into ancestors, even for patients who have not lost loved ones to death. We are often haunted by important relationships from the past that influence us unconsciously in the present. As we work them through, they go from haunting us to becoming simply part of our history."- Norman Doidge, The Brain That Changes Itself
"All of us have worries. We worry because we are intelligent beings. Intelligence predicts, that is its essence; the same intelligence that allows us to plan, hope, imagine, and hypothesize also allows us to worry and anticipate negative outcomes."- Norman Doidge, The Brain That Changes Itself
"The brain is a far more open system than we ever imagined, and nature has gone very far to help us perceive and take in the world around us. It has given us a brain that survives in a changing world by changing itself."- Norman Doidge, The Brain That Changes Itself
"We must be learning if we are to feel fully alive, and when life, or love, becomes too predictable and it seems like there is little left to learn, we become restless - a protest, perhaps, of the plastic brain when it can no longer perform its essential task."- Norman Doidge, The Brain That Changes Itself
"Analysis helps patients put their unconscious procedural memories and actions into words and into context, so they can better understand them. In the process they plastically retranscribe these procedural memories, so that they become conscious explicit memories, sometimes for the first time, and patients no longer need to "relive" or "reenact" them, especially if they were traumatic."- Norman Doidge, The Brain That Changes Itself
"If you want to lift a hundred pounds, you don't expect to succeed the first time. You start with a lighter weight and work up little by little. You actually fail to lift a hundred pounds, every day, until the day you succeed. But it is in the days when you are exerting yourself that the growth is occurring."- Norman Doidge, The Brain That Changes Itself
Read More: 5 Books Like The Brain That Changes Itself
Enjoyed this The Brain That Changes Itself summary? You might enjoy the rest of the books on these lists of the Best Learning Books of all time.
And in the meantime...
Here are 5 top books like The Brain That Changes Itself...
Wish There Was a Faster/Easier Way?
Whenever you’re ready, here are four ways I can help you be more productive, find more balance and live life more on purpose…
- Curious? Discover how productive you really are… Take this free, 2-minute assessment to unlock your PQ and discover the top 25 habits you need to get big things done. Take the 2-minute quiz →
- Overwhelmed? Get a free chapter of my book… Let me show you how to beat procrastination, permanently, with this free sneak peek inside TAoL’s ultimate productivity primer. Download your free chapter →
- Stuck? Grab a 90-Day TRACKTION Planner… Get the tool thousands trust to help them take control of their time, master their habits and hit goals in every part of their lives. Order your 90-day planner →
- Burned out? Join the TRACKTION Community… Take the 6-week masterclass, get weekly group coaching, find accountability partners and connect with like-minded self-starters. Get started FREE →