I finally completed reading The Brain That Changes Itself nearly two months after starting it. It seemed like an exciting new area with lots of real life examples and reports of actual research. Some of it seemed too good to be true and sometimes it seemed like a theory which explains everything. I thought that I should take it slowly and started googling some of the reports. Some of my misgivings are similar to those expressed in the review by Ruth Douillette:
"While it’s encouraging to realize that we do in fact have the ability to control and even manipulate brain function, it’s not quite as simple as that. The title suggests that the brain “changes itself.” It would be more accurate to say that the brain can be changed by significant intervention—therapy, self-talk, electronic devices—but left to itself most likely will continue in whatever rut it has settled into. Habits are hard to break.
Michael Merzenich, whom Doidge quotes liberally, has been studying the brain’s plasticity for nearly thirty years, according to his website. Merzenich leads a company, Posit Science, and we learn from Doidge the tremendous benefits he’s brought to his patients. What Doidge doesn’t mention, but a quick Google search discovers, is that Merzenich’s revolutionary program is quite pricey. Doidge stops just short of an infomercial."
The Wikipedia article onFast ForWord indicates that the resuts are not as consistently good as anticipated. But I still think that it is a wonderful book to explore the possibities of the power of the mind. More about brain plasticity here.
It will go on my list for rereading of some other popular science books : Sarah Blaffer Hrdy's "Mother Nature", Dan Gilbert's "Stumbling on Happiness", Matt Ridley's "The Red Queen", Frans de Waal's "Our Inner Ape" and of course Richard Dawkins.