Doidge on The Brain That Changes Itself

Dr. Norman Doidge has a short column on his own book, The Brain That Changes Itself, over at Science Blog. His book is extremely good, but it’s funny, when you read the column, it sounds like a science ‘travel log,’ as if he went on a long brain science roadtrip. It seems to be a leitmotif in a lot of recent popular science book; traveling around, meeting scientists, having a bit of a chat, getting a bit of personal back story as well as a chance to talk about their research. Or am I the only one who feels this way?

One of the commenters on the Science Blog says something about a book of ‘anecdotal evidence,’ which I think is pretty ignorant. Anyone who regularly reads neuropathology knows that ‘anecdotal evidence’ of human brain injury is not just typical, it’s essential. Singular cases can have an enormous impact on our knowledge of how the brain works by causing such distinctive disruptions of function. Where would we be in brain sciences with Phineas Gage, the folks Oliver Sachs writes about, and this unlucky brotherhood?

Check out Doidge’s column — and his book gets a strong recommendation as well.

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Trained as a cultural anthropologist at the University of Chicago, I have gone on to do fieldwork in Brazil and the United States. I have written one book, Learning Capoeira: Lessons in Cunning from an Afro-Brazilian Art (Oxford, 2005). I have also co-authored and co-edited several, including, with Dr. Daniel Lende, The Encultured Brain: An Introduction to Neuroanthropology (MIT, 2012), and with Dr. Melissa Fisher, Frontiers of Capital: Ethnographic Reflections on the New Economy (Duke, 2006). My research interests include neuroanthropology, psychological anthropology, sport, dance, human rights, neuroscience, phenomenology, economic anthropology, and just about anything else that catches my attention.

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