This post is a little different than those previously posted, but it’s relevant for all of us, no matter what age you may be at.
A couple years ago a friend recommended a book called “The Brain that Changes Itself” by Dr. Norman Doidge, a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and researcher at the faculty of Columbia University. Dru had stumbled upon the book when investigating how one could recuperate from brain damage caused by a stroke, as her father had recently suffered one. Although that was her principle area of interest, she found the book to contain much more. In fact, each chapter is a journey undertaken by Doidge who travels to discuss with medical experts and neuroscientists what they have learned about the brain’s ability to change itself.
The outcome, in short, is that the brain is not fixed, nor compartmentalized as previously thought where specific actions of the mind and body are allocated to specific areas of the brain. That, in fact, the brain evokes elements of plasticity – it is flexible and non-compartmentalized – if one part of the brain is damaged another area can take up the slack for what the initial part was responsible for. Doidge also found that the brain is competitive, that aspects of the brain actually compete with one another to take over areas of the brain that are no longer being utilized (ex: losing one’s sight – the area of the brain that handled this function could now be used for other cognitive activities).
What I found most interesting concerns aging – how it affects the brain and what we can do as we age to keep it healthy and active – to improve cognition, awareness, memory and concentration. After finishing the book I gathered all the text blocks I’d underlined so that in the future, rather than rereading the book I could just read my notes as I worked on my personal plan to keep my brain functioning the best that it can (especially after all I’ve put it through!).