Startling new evidence is revealing the powerful neuroplasticity capability of our brains.

English: Human brain Polski: Mózg człowieka

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The old idea that the brain (thus perhaps a mind set) could not physically change in later life is wrong. Illnesses like OCD, and PTSD can now be successfully treated using computer assisted training to essentially create new neuronal links in the brain. The seminal discoveries are documented in the book “The Brain That Changes Itself” by Doctor Normon Doidge. These new findings pose profound questions for all of us and go to the very roots of our law, science,  philosophy, and culture.

In this respect the new knowledge is as “disruptive” as the theory of evolution. There apparently is a cure for bigotry waiting in the wings and I say that warily because the claim is based on classifying bigotry as a pathology that wants curing.  Bigots are unable to adapt to new information and will not take up a new and more appropriate stance when given the most overwhelming, unambiguous evidence. They are stuck in a rut and are for all intents and purposes they are unable to climb out. The term you often hear is “willful ignorance”, yet it is probably more accurate to call this “inappropriate neuronal pathways”.
Promoters of physical child discipline are a prime example. They are absolutely not going to be reasoned out of their position no matter what. Hard core religious and political conservatives, likewise. However, for the subset of people who realize they might be on the wrong side of an argument there may be treatments that can ameliorate or even eliminate their bigoted views. Dr Doidge does not treat this aspect of his work in great detail because I think a lot of work must be done and treatments for other problems such as OCD and PTSD are more advanced at this stage.
The irony here is that the very aspect of our minds that can make us flexible can also make us inflexible. It all depends upon how the brain has been wired by our experience and learning. In the case of religious bigots, childhood indoctrination is the prime suspect because it occurs during the time children are especially vulnerable to brainwashing.
The promotional text for the presentation Dr. Doidge made in Australia reads:
“Dr. Doidge takes viewers through the latest research into the specific problems exclusive to the human brain, and human condition. And prepare to be amazed: The program interviews UCLA researcher Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, whose research is giving new hope to people suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. In Montreal, Dr. Doidge meets psychologist Alain Brunet, who is currently developing a neuroplasticity-based treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. And in San Francisco, the program visits with Dr. Sophia Vinogradov, who is making groundbreaking advances in dealing with schizophrenia. Like many other researchers, she’s completely rethinking the current methods of treating schizophrenic patients.
With Dr. Doidge as capable tour guide, the film confirms that long-held belief that the human brain is remarkably resilient and can adapt to almost any situation.”

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About Richard Collins

Researcher/writer/activist
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