It’s Monday which means it’s time to plan my reading week.
I read The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge a number of years ago.
In fact my memory of reading this book is very specific and linked to a very strong sensory experience – I read a chapter every Wednesday afternoon whilst my youngest booklet was doing his swimming lessons.
Whenever someone now mentions this book, I am immediately overwhelmed by the smell of chlorine and I feel once again the warm, syrupy humidity of our local indoor pool. It was a lovely bonding time for the two of us & Norman Doidge is now forever connected to this moment of family history.
And, in fact, this experience is a prime example of what he was talking about in his book,
We have seen that imagining an act engages the same motor and sensory programs that are involved in doing it. We have long viewed our imaginative life with a kind of sacred awe: as noble, pure, immaterial, and ethereal, cut off from our material brain. Now we cannot be so sure about where to draw the line between them. Everything your “immaterial” mind imagines leaves material traces. Each thought alters the physical state of your brain synapses at a microscopic level.
As we age and plasticity declines, it becomes increasingly difficult for us to change in response to the world, even if we want to. We find familiar types of stimulation pleasurable; we seek out like-minded individuals to associate with, and research shows we tend to ignore or forget, or attempt to discredit, information that does not match our beliefs, or perception of the world, because it is very distressing and difficult to think and perceive in unfamiliar ways.
They only regret I now feel about The Brain That Changes Itself, is that I loaned this book to a friend a few years ago, and it has never been returned. At the time I didn’t mind, she needed the book more than I did. But in more recent moments I have wanted to refer to something in it, and I couldn’t. Looking at a copy at work isn’t as handy as being able to find that section I had underlined or asterixed.
But now there is a sequel due out. As you imagine my delight, think about how many synapses have just been triggered and how many different ways our brains have just been altered!
The Brain’s Way of Healing by Norman Doidge
In The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge described the most important breakthrough in our understanding of the brain in four hundred years: the discovery that the brain can change its own structure and function in response to mental experience—what we call neuroplasticity. His revolutionary new book shows, for the first time, how the amazing process of neuroplastic healing really works. It describes natural, non-invasive avenues into the brain provided by the forms of energy around us—light, sound, vibration, movement—which pass through our senses and our bodies to awaken the brain’s own healing capacities without producing unpleasant side effects.
Doidge explores cases where patients alleviated years of chronic pain or recovered from debilitating strokes or accidents; children on the autistic spectrum or with learning disorders normalizing; symptoms of multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and cerebral palsy radically improved, and other near-miracle recoveries. And we learn how to vastly reduce the risk of dementia with simple approaches anyone can use.
For centuries it was believed that the brain’s complexity prevented recovery from damage or disease. The Brain’s Way of Healing shows that this very sophistication is the source of a unique kind of healing.
As he did so lucidly in The Brain That Changes Itself, Doidge uses stories to present cutting-edge science with practical real-world applications, and principles that everyone can apply to improve their brain’s performance and health.
No doubt this will take me quite a few weeks to read, so don’t watch for a review too soon. And I hope we get a few more hot summery days so I can pack this book into my swim bag for when I go to the pool to do my laps.
My light relief read for the week is book two of Sulari Gentill’s Rowland Sinclair series, A Decline in Prophets.
In 1932, the R.M.S. Aquitania embodies all that is gracious and refined, in a world gripped by crisis and doubt.
Returning home on the luxury liner after months abroad, Rowland Sinclair and his companions dine with a suffragette, a Bishop and a retired World Prophet. The Church encounters less orthodox religion in the Aquitania’s chandeliered ballroom, where men of God rub shoulders with mystics in dinner suits.
The elegant atmosphere on board is charged with tension but civility prevails…until people start to die. Then things get a bit awkward. And Rowland Sinclair finds himself unwittingly in the centre of it all.
I can’t wait! Rowland and his friends are becoming my friends too. And I LOVE these covers.
What will you be reading this week?