“If the human brain were a computer, it could perform 38 thousand trillion operations per second. The world’s most powerful supercomputer, BlueGene, can manage only .002% of that.”
The brain is by far the most complex organ-system in the human body. Not only is the brain responsible for every multitude of cognitive tasks that we perform, it also acts as the governor over every other organ and system in the body. Literally every action, voluntary and involuntary, from the movement of our muscles to the beating of the heart, to digestive processes, immune function and the basic act of breathing — all are initiated and regulated directly by the brain.
It’s no wonder that this all-important organ has been studied so intensely for thousands of years and across hundreds of cultures. But it wasn’t until this century that science could begin to explain just how intricate the brain truly is. Once thought to be fixed in its structural and functional capabilities, the new science of neuroplasticity now teaches us that the brain is highly dynamic and capable of both structure (hardware) changes (.e.g. growth of new dendritic branches) as well as functional (software) changes (.e.g formation of new synaptic connections).
“Neuroplasticity can be observed at multiple scales, from microscopic changes in individual neurons to larger-scale changes such as cortical remapping in response to injury.” — Characterizing Brain Plasticity
Ushered in with this new research should come tremendous hope and optimism that this master organ now proves virtually limitless in its capacity for healing and improvement. — Just think, if the brain is capable of such change, imagine what’s possible for the body over which it presides?
“Behavior, environmental stimuli, thought, and emotions may also cause neuroplastic change through activity-dependent plasticity, which has significant implications for healthy development, learning, memory, and recovery from brain damage.” — Timothy A. Keller
The following are 7 mind-bending (or should we say, brain altering?) books on the new science of brain research: