Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Plastic Brain

I'm reading a fascinating book at the moment called The Brain That Changed Itself. The author, Norman Doidge, presents an interesting portrait of the boundless adaptability of the human brain, through a number of case studies and stories.

This (relatively) new branch of neuroscience is called neuroplasticity.

The field has had a huge impact on psychiatry, particularly psychoanalysis. Through this 'talking therapy' it's become clear that patients brains do physically change and adapt through realizations and confrontations with their subconscious:

"Analysis helps patients put their unconscious procedural memories and actions into words and into context, so they can better understand them. In the process they plastically retranscribe these procedural memories, so that they become conscious explicit memories, sometimes for the first time, and patients no longer need to "relive" or "reenact" them, especially if they were traumatic."

And of course dreams play a huge part in analysis. Dreams are in their very nature revealing because the part of our brain that processes our sexual, survival and aggressive instincts is more active and less inhibited by other systems in the brain:

"With instincts turned up and inhibitions turned down, the dreaming brain can reveal impulses that are normally blocked from awareness."


debbie ding said...

i once saw a bbc show about the man who lost all feeling in his arms and legs (which rendered him paralysed initially cos he could not feel the feedback) but then he gained back mobility by retraining himself how to walk without being able to feel anything. he was so convincing that people thought he had regained feeling but he had just somehow managed to learn a new way around balance and motion and parts of his brain was remapping itself. but anyway that is an extreme example...

anyway i am digressing. say, does this have any relation to NLP?

Zai Tang said...

NLP as in Neuro-Linguistic Programming? Nope, no mention of it. From what I can gather this is probably due to NLP not being seen as a scientifically legitimate practise.

Judging from examples of NLP I've seen (e.g. Derren Brown!), it appears as though it can be used to subconsciously persuade people in to doing certain actions (a kind of hypnotism), but in terms of permanently altering the way someone thinks and responds to certain memories and stimuli; I'm not so sure...