Happy Brain Awareness Week

Brain BookMarch 5th to 12th is Brain Awareness week.  In honour of this topic I thought I’d share a favourite book about the brain.  It’s called The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge.

This book delves into the idea of neuroplasticity.  In the past, it was believed that brain development was fixed after childhood.  Brain cells that were injured or killed off were gone for good and the only developments in your brain were those of decline as you aged.  Neuroplasticity is the idea that your brain is changeable and develops and can grow your whole life!

One of my main interests in this topic is how the book looks at learning disabilities (LD).  With LDs, we often teach compensations.  An example of a compensation is when a student has trouble reading, you may use audio books or you may give more time on tests to allow more processing time.  For some people these strategies work, however, they don’t work for everybody and they don’t fix the underlying problem.

Chapter Two of Doidge’s book is about a woman who developed mental exercises to strengthen the weak parts of her brain to help herself learn – as an adult.  She then has gone on to open the Eaton Arrowsmith schools where students perform similar brain exercises to help them learn (there is one in Vancouver).  As a teacher of children with special needs and learning disabilities, it is an interesting approach to consider.

The book is not all on LDs, Chapter 6, for example, is about using brain plasticity to help control OCD and Chapter 9 discusses early childhood development and the impact of trauma during that time.  Among many other topics, the books also talks about strategies and treatments for stroke patients, brain development as it relates to sexuality,  and the connection between imagination and action. 

I could go on and on but, in summary, it is amazing to learn what our brains are capable of.  I’ve read other books on the brain but what I really like about this one is that it is accessible.  You don’t have to look up every third word or concept.  It’s written for the average person’s understanding.  Then to top it all off it is so interesting you will have trouble putting it down – seriously, it is blow your mind fascinating.  If you decide to check it out, please let me know what you think.  Happy reading!

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6 Responses to Happy Brain Awareness Week

  1. Interesting topic Renata! I think the brain is absolutely amazing and I love learning new things about topics I’m passionate about. Brain injuries are something I’m aware of working as a labour and delivery RN, anoxic brain injuries are something we are always aware of. Curious about the new approach to training your brain.

  2. The brain is beyond… I am so encouraged by all the research about development into adolescence and early adulthood but even MORE so about capacity to learn and retrain. Thanks for another boost.

  3. salma says:

    This is a topic I’ve never thought about a lot Renata, but all the points you talked about sound really interesting. I’m add this book to my list of want to read.

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