The Brain that Changes Itself

I watched an intriguing documentary available on Amazon Prime called The Brain that Changes Itself. It is a film based on a book by the same name written by Norman Doidge. I recommend both. They address the developing area of study in neurology of neuroplasticity. This is an important development because for too long scientists have assumed that the brain was fixed in its wiring and that certain conditions were permanent. The film shows how some innovative neuro-scientists have discovered that this is not the case. They show how, with the proper training, some people with severe challenges have literally rewired their neural pathways  and overcome incredible things. They call this neuroplasticity because the person’s brain developed new neural pathways when those pathways biologically intended for a particular function were damaged beyond use. This alternate neural highway gained in competence and ultimately adapted to function normally. One scientist compared it to being stuck in traffic on the main highway, not moving, or taking an alternate side route that, slow at first,ultimately developed over time into a new super highway.

One scientist described his belief that autism is caused by an excess of neuroplasticity. He works at trying to reduce the overload of information that enters the brain of people with autism and creates in them behavioral loops. I found the film fascinating and hopeful because it emphasizes that the brain remains plastic throughout adulthood. I encourage you to watch it. I’m interested in your impressions.


2 responses to “The Brain that Changes Itself

  1. Phaedra Taiarol

    I recently read this book and am very happy to hear that there is ongoing research into the technologiesthat can help change the brain. I am particularly excited that the PONS devices may be publicly available later this year. I also read “Switched On” by John Robison last year; he talks about another promising technology, repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. I’m looking forward to reading your next book!

  2. I recently developed a device for my non-speaking autistic piano students with dyspraxia who had difficulty controlling their fingers to create accurate playing. It is called the Perfect Perch and information is available on It doesn’t work because a piece of plastic is placed under their hands, but rather, because of theories of neuroplasticity. The brain is always available to learn how to wire itself to function best–you just have to know how to active the interested brain regions rather than the ingrained motor functions (such as provoking self harm due to overload).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *