Thursday, June 01, 2017

The Brain's Way of Healing by Norman Doidge, M.D.

Both of  Dr. Doidge's books are absolutely fascinating. They discuss how the science of Neuroplasticity is helping people with Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, chronic pain, depression, autism, stroke patients, and more.

While his books only hint at this issue, as a teacher I am concerned about how our children are wiring their brains. This current generation is the first to be truly immersed in technology and I see some concerning trends in the classroom.

That said, I hope that the therapies discussed in this book will become more widely available for more people and that the results discussed here will be replicated millions of times over.

"When we learn, we alter which genes in our neurons are “expressed,” or turned on. Our genes have two functions. The first, the “template function,” allows our genes to replicate, making copies of themselves that are passed from generation to generation. The template function is beyond our control. The second is the “transcription function.” Each cell in our body contains all our genes, but not all those genes are turned on, or expressed. When a gene is turned on, it makes a new protein that alters the structure and function of the cell. This is called the transcription function because when the gene is turned on, information about how to make these proteins is “transcribed” or read from the individual gene. This transcription function is influenced by what we do and think. Most people assume that our genes shape us—our behavior and our brain anatomy. Kandel’s work shows that when we learn our minds also, affect which genes in our neurons are transcribed. Thus we can shape our genes, which in turn shape our brain’s microscopic anatomy.” 

~Norman Doidge, The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontier of Brain Science

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