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Neuroplasticity and the Brain That Changes Itself

I first discovered Norman Doidge’s book, The Brain That Changes Itself, in a May, 2007 review in the New York Times. Intrigued, but caught up in myriad end-of-school-year responsibilities, the book was put out of my mind until later that summer, when our The Brain that Changes Itself - Norman Doidgeschools learning specialist emailed to say she had just finished a fascinating book. The Brain That Changes Itself: Stores of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science, is a compelling collection of tales about the amazing abilities of the brain to rewire, readjust and relearn after having a slice of itself rendered dysfunctional. The first seven chapters captivated me for their personal stories; the final four chapters for the science and philosophy.

Part of what makes Doidge’s writing so accessible is he tells stories, and his stories just happen to incorporate brain science. As a result, his book is easy to digest. The neuroscience behind Doidge’s book involves neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to rewire itself. This means that the brain is our intelligence  is not something fixed in concrete but rather a changing, learning entity. On the face of it, this concept should not sound unusual, for it is what happens to individuals all the time as we go about the learning process, from infancy onwards.

What separates the stories in this book from daily learning is that Read the rest of this entry »

Neurogenesis and Brain Plasticity in Adult Brains

Back in July, I wrote a post entitled 10 Brain Tips To Teach and Learn. Those tips apply to students of any age, including adults, for ideally adults are still learners. Why is adult learning relevant in a brain-focused blog, you may wonder:

The short of it

As we age, our brain:

still forms new brain cells
can change its structure & function
finds positive stress can be beneficial; negative stress can be detrimental
can thrive on novel challenges
needs to be exercised, just like our bodies

The long of it

Adults may have a tendency to get set in their ways have been doing it this way for a long time and it works, so why change? Turns out, though, that change can be a way to keep aging brains healthy. At the April Learning & the Brain conference, the theme of which was neuroplasticity, I attended several sessions on adult learning. Here’s what the experts are saying.

Read the rest of this entry »

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