The man who brought the theory about the brain’s ability to change itself to the masses, Normon Doidge MD, is set to tour the country with a series of seminars and lessons on brain science during August and September. 

The author of the internationally best-selling book, The Brain That Changes Itself, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, will visit Perth, Sydney and Brisbane to discuss the discovery and application of neuroplasticity to help people with mental limitations and brain damage.

This scientific discovery has provided hope for many older people who are able to now, according to Doidge, change the structure and function of their brains and reverse damage simply by thinking.  

Although Dr Doidge did not invent the theory of neuroplasticity, his work has made the discovery understandable and available worldwide, and has benefited many stroke patients and people with learning difficulties, brain injuries and intellectual disabilities.

“Patients who had been paralyzed for years and were told they would never get better began to move again,” Dr Doidge states in his book.

“Some regained their ability to speak…The same treatment shows promise for spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and even arthritis.”

The theory replaces the previous view that the brain is hardwired at birth or in early youth and is like a machine. The traditional doctrine, which also states that each part of the brain performs a single mental function, has provided little hope for older people who have acquired brain limitations with age or illness, as the brain was unchangeable.

Neuroplasticity however, suggests that some cases of brain damage and other conditions can be reversed to varying degrees.

“One reason we can change our brains simply by imagining is that, from a neuroscientific point of view, imagining that an act and doing it are not as different as they sound,” Dr Doidge wrote.

“Brain scans show that in action and imagination many of the same parts of the brain are activated. That is why visualizing can improve performance.

“…When you time how long it takes to imagine writing your name with your ‘good hand,’ and then actually write it, the times will be similar. When you imagine writing your name with your nondominant hand, it will take longer both to imagine it and write it. Most people who are right-handed find that their “mental left hand” is slower than their “mental right hand”.

“Both mental imagery and actions are thought to be slowed because they both are products of the same motor program in the brain. The speed with which we imagine is probably constrained by the neuronal firing rate of our motor programs.”

Dr Doidge’s seminar, entitled Lessons from the Frontiers of Brain Science, will feature as a demonstration of some of the key principles and applications of neuroplasticity, as well as film clips from previously “incurable” patients undergoing plastic change and recovery.

The seminar will be followed by an afternoon session on the neuroscience based computer program Fast ForWord, Changing the Brain for Learning.

AAA will be giving away three tickets to each of the three seminars in Perth on Friday 20 August; Sydney on Tuesday 24 August; and Brisbane on Monday 6 September.

The first three emails we receive for each event will win. Send your email with the phrase “Dr Norman Doidge” and your preferred city in the subject field to editorial@australianageingagenda.com.au. Include your name and contact details in the body of the email. Good luck!

Please note, the free tickets for Brisbane and Sydney have are no longer available.

Seminar details:

Perth         

Friday 20 August, 8.30am- 3pm
Perth Convention Exhibition Centre
Tickets range from $119 (morning session only) to $169 (all day including lunch) and are available from via www.extension.edu.au

Sydney

Tuesday 24 August, 9.30 am- 4.30 pm
Northside Convention Centre, Crows Nest
Cnr Oxley Street and Pole Lane, Crows Nest
Cost is $149 per person. Tickets can be purchased online from www.fastforward.com.au/doidge.2010 or 02 8467 4812

Brisbane

Monday 6 September, 8.30am- 3pm
Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre
Tickets $119 (morning session only) to $169 (all day including lunch) available from ralph@eventswa.com.au  or 08 9248 5788

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