[Clayart] The Brain That Changes Itself

Dorothy Parshall via Clayart clayart at lists.clayartworld.com
Thu Feb 5 08:30:12 EST 2015

I read books about the brain when I can, in an effort to find answers/ 
possible helps with my own difficulties. Only able to manage a few  
pages at a time, I have just gotten to a point in this important and  
fascinating book by Norman Doidge where he talks about the changes  
that take place in the brain as a person learns to play the piano. The  
brain mapping changes as learning takes place. As the person  
struggles, it takes more neurons to  achieve results; as proficiency  
improves, the number of neurons/space on the brain map decreases,  
opening more room for new learning.

Liken this to learning to throw a pot. As I watch my current student  
struggle and become more proficient, this has strong meaning to me.  
The better the person gets, the more precise the brain mapping  
becomes. "...as neurons are trained and become more efficient, they  
can process faster. This means that the speed at which we think is  
itself plastic. Speed of thought is essential to our survival."

That last brings to mind my grade school teacher who kept me in from  
recess to stand at the blackboard and write numbers faster and faster  
as she called them out to me. THEN, I could actually finish our  
arithmetic tests. She may not have know she was changing my brain but  
this terrific teacher knew what worked. Just as recent researchers  
found as they trained monkeys to respond to sounds faster and faster.  
And observed the resultant changes in the brain.

I have long been intrigued by the fact that, even after several years  
away from a wheel, my brain is able to tell my hands exactly what to  
do. The neurons remember this for me.

Fascinating book. Useful for teachers and anyone who wants to  
understand the brain better.

Dorothy, Quebec

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