Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Plastic Fantastic

I have just finished reading 'The Brain That Changes Itself'' by Dr. Norman Doidge. It is about the evolution of brain science and how research is shifting away from the view that our brains are hardwired, and therefore any damage received is irreversible. We are now coming to realise that our brains are like play-doh and can mold and change to adapt to illness and injury and ageing; making it possible for the brain to re-wire itself.

I had wanted to read this book for some time and found it completely fascinating. Some parts are very dry and focus on a lot of medical terminology and complex scientific study. I found myself skim reading these parts so I didn't lose focus and motivation.

It is also hard to read as it talks in detail about the animal testing used to discover this neuroplasticity. I find that animal testing does not sit well with me, partly because it is not an issue that I can ascribe to being "good" or "bad". I hate the idea of animals living in cages their whole lives, being poked and prodded for our benefit. But at the same time, I have two very good friends who have diabetes that is controlled through regular insulin injections. They live perfectly normal lives due to animal research. I would never want them to stop taking their insulin even though I know it came from animal testing. See what I mean? There is no easy answer here.

However, on the whole, this book is thrilling and wondrous in its possibilities and gives a lot of food for thought on topics as varied as pornography, romantic love, drug use and early childhood development. So if you're in the mood for a bit of non-fiction and are willing to press on through some dry patches, give it a go.

Post script - when I proudly showed The Boyfriend what I was reading he exclaimed quite loudly "SNOOZE FEST!" but has since listened attentively when I have relayed certain chapters of interest to him. So don't be put off, it was amazing to me how many situations I could relate to people in my own life.

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