Want to learn more about neuroscience?

In this series, our neuroscientists have reviewed their favourite neuroscience books. Each day these amazing stories will give an insight into the amazing powers of the brain.

  • The Brain That Changes Itself  By Dr Norman Doidge
  • The Most Human Human  By Brian Christian
  •  Life in Physics  By Lise Meitner
  • Language as a Window into Human Nature: The Stuff of Thought By Steven Pinker
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks By Rebecca Skloot
  • Fixing My Gaze  By Professor Susan Barry
  • The Human Brain: A Guided Tour  By Professor Susan Greenfield
  • I’m not stupid, just disabled: some serious chitchat about life after a stroke  By Wolfgang Haufe
  • The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul By Dr Francis Crick 
  • Pieces of Mind: 21 Short Walks Around the Human Brain By Michael C. Corballis

The Brain That Changes Itself

By Dr Norman Doidge
Reviewed by: Lucy Goodman, PhD Student

Inside every human skull lies a plastic brain ready to be moulded by its greatest dreams.

‘The Brain That Changes Itself’ is a collection of mental success stories that fight our ageing beliefs and instead teach us old dogs a whole bunch of new tricks.

Neuroscientists are now learning that the adult brain is not as fixed and unchangeable as we once thought, but is capable of remodelling itself, if we just put our minds to it. So if you’ve ever blamed your less-than-perfect mental capabilities on the brain you were born with, this book reminds you to think again.

Norman Doidge, a psychiatrist and researcher, appreciates the story from both sides of the cerebral cortex. The book begins with a story of a scientist who found a way to restore balance to a woman with a damaged vestibular system. As much about the scientist as his achievements, we learn the importance of passion and belief for initiating change.

Later on, we meet people with the mental dedication to ‘redesign’ their brains, relieving their own mental retardation, obsessive compulsive disorder, and stroke. With science subtly hardwired beneath the success stories, the reader feels the sense of mental accomplishment that Doidge promotes.

‘The Brain That Changes Itself’ inspires anyone with half a brain to achieve the unimaginable. If a girl born with only one cerebral cortex can grow into a functioning adult, where does your true potential lie? Whether as a world memory champion, or simply a more positive thinker, pick up your brain and mould it into whatever you want it to be.