Monday, January 19, 2009

Book review: THE BRAIN THAT CHANGES ITSELF

THE BRAIN THAT CHANGES ITSELF
By Norman Doidge, MD


This book is good news. It explains how the brain changes and parts of it even grow till we die. It also talks about the “rewiring” of the brain. If a certain part of the brain is damaged other parts take on some “extra duties”, but it also makes it clear that if you don’t use it, it is quite simple: you lose it. The book explains how important it is to continue to learn new things in order to keep the brain in shape and also reduce the chances of Alzheimer’s and similar diseases. There are also ways to help kids that are learning-disabled and language-impaired.



The only complaint I would have is the fact that it recommends a computer program, that helps your brain stay in shape, which is of course excellent, but it is so expensive that I at least can not afford it. I wish there would be some or more advice on what to do to exercise your brain if you are not using a computer. The book is full of scientific facts but also stories of real people, which makes it fun and easy to read.

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Book Review: THE FEMALE BRAIN

THE FEMALE BRAIN
By Louann Brizendine, MD



This book tries to explain the differences between the female and male brain and the effect of hormones on the brain. It would be an interesting read for moms with problematic teen-agers (and what teen-ager is not problematic?!?) and pregnant women. All those mood swings and crazy ideas… well they still don’t make sense but you are able to understand what is going on and find help if needed. Did you know that a pregnant woman’s brain actually starts losing weight, although it keeps the same number of brain cells, and permanently changes? The book also has a very good chapter for “mature” women. I’ve learned for instance that menopause actually lasts only 24 hours but perimenopause can lasts from two to nine (!!!) years.




What I thought was missing in this book was the effect of other factors on the brain since this book concentrates solely on hormones. I am not a scientist but I would think that our brain should be able to control the hormones to some degree and not the other way around. I also did not care much for the fact that, according to the writer, the solution for the problems exists mostly in the form of pills which I have a hard time believing. I think that the right way to deal with it would be to explore all of the other things that change or have an effect on the brain and start doing research that would find out if people can control their hormones without tons of medication. Over all I liked the book and I would recommend it to other people, especially women, but I would also tell them that they should not build their “brain philosophy” solely on this book.

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