“The Brain That Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge

This book gives an overview of the recent advances in neuroscience with emphasis on applications to restore brain functions to people who have suffered damages to the brain (caused by diseases, accidents or birth defect).

Use it or Lose it

The human brain is not rigid, but is constantly adapting to changes in the environment and the brain itself. Brain functions can be strengthened and partly restored through targeted mental exercise. Psychotherapy can help rewire the neuronal network and restore proper brain function.

Phantoms in the Brain

Our brain constructs images/maps of our body and of our environment. These images are not exact or always up-to-date, but are abstract and even decoupled from the original objects. Sometimes old images are overlaid on top of the new (as in the case of transference), and the person appears to be reliving the past.

It is also possible to alter these images in the brain deliberately and thereby change the way the brain respond and interact with the target objects. A famous example is Ramachandran’s use of mirror box to treat phantom limbs.

Interface Between Brain and Machine

Electric signals from the brain can be captured and translated into electrical signals/commands that can be carried out by machines. Paralyzed people can move objects with their thoughts using such devices.

The advance in technology may soon challenge our perception of ourselves. “What does it mean to be a human being?”


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