With Norman Doidge’s books available in over 100 countries, we can no longer to reply to individual emails about neuroplastic techniques.  So, we have prepared the following answers, based on past email inquiries and questions from his lectures. We periodically update this page, as new neuroplastic developments occur. If you saw Dr. Doidge on television, or heard him on radio, and have a question, keep in mind the answer to your question might well be in his books.

The following are some of the disorders covered in The Brain’s Way of Healing.

  • Chronic pain of many kinds, including spinal, back and neck pain, terminal cancer pain, trigeminal neuralgia, and many kinds of neuropathic pain, trigeminal neuralgia
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • A wide range of balance and vestibular problems
  • How to decrease the risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease
  • Traumatic brain injury and concussion (Five new treatments for TBI)
  • Migraine
  • Stroke (including loss of movement, loss of speech, balance problems, and visual field loss)
  • Cerebral palsy


  • Movement and intellectual problems cause by missing parts of the brain
  • Damage post meningitis
  • Visual problems, including some forms of blindness, amblyopia, strabismus, myopia
  • Learning disorders, both verbal and non verbal
  • Reading disorders and dyslexia
  • Global cognitive problems secondary to premature birth
  • Some of the symptoms of Down’s Syndrome
  • Clumsiness
  • Auditory processing disorders

The following are some of the disorders covered in The Brain That Changes Itself:

  • Loss of senses: vision, balance, hearing
  • All kinds of learning disorders
  • Reading problems
  • Auditory processing problems
  • A bit on autism and hypersensitivity
  • How to preserve an aging brain
  • Issues of love, and sex and plasticity
  • Pornography and other addictions
  • Stroke recovery: for speech loss and paralysis
  • Brain injury recovery: for speech and movement


  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Pain-phantom pain and chronic neuropathic pain
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Worrying
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis
  • Psychological Trauma
  • Major brain problems, such as people born with half a brain
  • Cognitive problems that occur after brain surgery
  • Implications for understanding culture, given that culture rewires the brain

What follows are some details that might be helpful, offered as general information that you might want to look into yourself, with the help of your health professional. This information is not intended as a shortcut way of giving medical advice or a medical consultation about any particular condition.

Keep in mind that there are many practitioners, of both new, and conventional therapies, who make use of brain plasticity—whether they are aware of it or not. Also keep in mind that neuroplastic interventions recruit healthy tissue to take over from disordered, diseased, damaged, or underdeveloped tissue. So, to work, there must be some healthy tissue in the brain.

These answers provide general information, not personal medical advice. Always make decisions about diagnosis and treatment in consultation with a trusted health care practitioner.

Can you give me a referral—the name of a person who practices neuroplasticity using the principles described in The Brain That Changes Itself— who lives in my area?

Unfortunately no. But you or your health care practitioner can contact the clinicians and scientists that Dr. Doidge describes in his book for this (many are listed below). The neuroplasticians that Dr. Doidge has studied the most, and knows best, are described in detail in his book. Some contact information is below, some you can get on the Internet with a little research. They include many of the most important pioneers in the field. They know who, if anyone, they have trained, and may know who is in your area. It is also important to understand that the neuroplasticity revolution is very cutting edge, and like all scientific revolutions, it can take 10 to 20 years before these techniques are widely available. You may have to be prepared to travel to get a cutting-edge treatment, so investigate it carefully. You may be lucky and have someone in your area who treats your problem using these principles. In some cases, the treatments are available either online, or by ordering a program for your computer (see below). As Dr. Doidge tests and gets to know more about programs, he will share that information on his website and in his lectures, or in coming publications.

Chronic pain. Is it caused by my brain plasticity?

Chronic pain can occur because there is an ongoing disease or injury in the body that needs attention, such as a hurt limb. The best solution is finding that disease and treating it, if possible. But pain can be chronic for another reason. Sometimes it is because when a disease or injury occurs, the nerves in the pain system are also injured. In these cases, the pain can persist long after the rest of the body has healed. It is in this situation where the neuroplasticity of pain is most relevant. Work with your physician to find out which of the two kinds of chronic pain you or your loved one has. Some pain physicians are just now getting interested in understanding pain and plasticity, and expect some more attention to be paid to it in the next few years. Google “pain” and “neuroplasticity” periodically, to check for new developments. If you’ve read chapter one, in The Brain’s Way of Healing, and are interested in contacting Dr. Moskowitz and his colleague Dr. Marla Golden, their website is at www.neuroplastix.com. They have a self-help book for chronic pain that can be ordered from the site; they also train professionals in the techniques, and see patients. 

What new approaches are there for traumatic brain injury?

Until recently, the main approach to a concussion has been “rest and restore.” Clients are told to rest, and the hope that they get will better. Unfortunately, a proportion of people do not get better, and develop post concussion syndromes, which are ongoing traumatic brain injuries. In The Brain’s Way of Healing US, Canadian and UK paperback editions (and eventually, all other editions of the book in other languages) Norman Doidge has described approaches that have been helpful for a number of people who did not get better with rest. These approaches have in some cases led to a complete loss of symptoms, and in others a significant diminishment of their symptoms. In some, they have not helped. Still going from a situation where there is no help available to a large number of people, to a range of options, is a significant improvement. The interventions he described in the books should be studied there, in detail, in the chapters, in the appendices, and in the new afterword to the paperback edition. Often, a combination of interventions is involved, including proper exercises. DO NOT UNDERTAKE THESE WITHOUT THE GUIDANCE OF AN EXPERT. The interventions described in The Brain’s Way of Healing include:

 

  1. Low intensity lasers and LEDs (Chapter 4)
  2. The PoNS (Chapter 7)
  3. Neurofeedback (including standard neurofeedback and LENS neurofeedback) (Appendix 3)
  4. Matrix Repatterning (Appendix 2)
  5. Modified sound (chapter 8)
  6. Cognitive Fx (Afterword; it is a clinic in UTAH, which uses a combination of a special brain scan and brain exercises targeted specifically for areas that are not functioning well)
  7. Neuroscience informed optometry (Afterword)
  8. French based osteopathy and forms of cranial osteopathy (Afterword)
  9. Functional neurology (This family of techniques is not described in Norman Doidge’s books, but has had some successes in traumatic brain injuries as well.)

Sometimes a number of these must be tried, before finding one that might help. Some of these are discussed in other questions below. Often, combinations of these interventions will be helpful. In attempting to determine which approach might be helpful there is NO SUBSTITUTE for carefully reading about these approaches, in the chapters as well as on the practitioners’ websites, and, with the help of your health care professional, determining which might be worth contacting for an assessment. If you have a brain injury and reading is difficult, get a trusted friend or family member to help explain it, and then be sure to see your own health care provider. Be aware that practitioners of these techniques are often partial to their own techniques, which they have studied the most, and they may not know about the other techniques at all, or in any depth. Be aware, too, that because many of these techniques are new, it may be necessary to travel to see the practitioners. Travel for people with brain injuries is often difficult.

I’m interested in the PoNS device, in Chapter 7 of The Brain’s Way of Healing. It’s the device that neuromodulates and resets the brain, and which has helped people traumatic brain injury, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Stroke, some pain problems, and other brain and balance difficulties. How do I find out more?

Right now, almost every one of the PoNS devices are in the hands of the U.S. Military, which is doing a study of its use for treating traumatic brain injury in veterans, and with researchers, elsewhere, including at the Montreal Neurological Institute, which is studying the device with Multiple Sclerosis patients. The PoNS is not expected to be more available in the USA or Canada until about December 2016, Australia the first half of 2017. This is an estimate. To find out more, contact the Tactile Communication and Neurorehabiliation Lab that developed it. 

I read about low-intensity laser light, in Chapter 4 of The Brain’s Way of Healing, which can help a number of brain and body related problems including concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury. Tell me more.

Chapter 4 describes the work of two Toronto-based clinicians who use light for concussion, traumatic brain injury, and other brain problems. Light therapy is generally extremely safe, but a small number of patients with TBI can be overstimulated by too high an amount of light therapy, exacerbating their sensitivities for a while, and the amount of light administered needs to be significantly lowered, or another approach tried.  If you are interested in Fred Kahn’s clinical work  contact Meditech International at http://bioflexlaser.com/tpr/. This clinic works with light for a wide variety of body-based problems as well.  Anita Saltmarche was one of the first clinicians to publish on the successful use of light for treating brain injury. One of her interest areas is patients who are  hypersensitive to light, sound, or other sensations post injury, and in using very very  low levels of light, so that symptoms are not exacerbated. Her contact information is  anita@saltmarchehealth.com as a new website is under construction.

I read the chapters on Feldenkrais. How can I tell if a practitioner is certified?

In 1977 Feldenkrais set up an organization, now called the Feldenkrais Guild of North America, which today acrredits trainings programs and certifies practitioners in Canada and the United States in the Feldenkrais Method. It is affiliated with the International Feldenkrais Federation, which represents certified practitioners throughout the world who have completed the training.  

I read about sound and movement therapy for ADD, ADHD, Autistic Spectrum, learning disorders, dyslexia, Down’s Syndrome, Sensory Processing Disorder and TBI in Chapter 8 of The Brain’s Way of Healing. How can I learn more or contact the people involved?

That chapter profiled the work of Paul Madaule, and Ron Minson. Paul Madaule and his team, can be reached at The Listening Centre. On that site you can also see the tape of the autistic child they treated, before, and after the therapy. Madaule’s model is to do the initial work at The Listening Centre. Sometimes, in the more advanced stages, they work with portable equipment, that can be taken home. He also has colleagues he works with in other parts of the world, that use similar highly nuanced equipment.

 

In Australia, Listen and Learn, a centre in Melbourne, works with the same techniques that Paul Madaule does, and also provides quantitative EEG assessments, and in-depth psychological assessments to determine what approach is best to take for  a child with a learning disorder, special needs, ADD, developmental delays, autistic spectrum disorders,  or a speech, language and sound processing problem, among others. They also offer a number of different neuroplastic interventions including listening therapies, neurofeedback, Fast ForWord and Cellfield (a program for reading problems of a strongly visual origin) among others.  The advantage of such a centre is that they have a range of neuroplastic options to offer, but still do first rate sound and listening therapy and assessments. Their website is http://www.listenandlearn.com.au

Dr. Ron Minson, described in Chapter 4 of The Brain’s Way of Healing is medical director of iLS (Integrated Listening Systems) a company developed with colleagues Kate O’Brien and Randall Redfield. iLS developed portable systems, that use sound and movement. These devices are distributed to professional practitioners, of various backgrounds, including clinicians and educators, who complete an iLS course, on top of their other credentials. The iLS website is HERE: and lists providers, and several of their products, including one that can be very helpful for people with attentional problems with sleep disturbances. Both Madaule and Minson’s work grew out of training with Alfred Tomatis, MD.

I have balance and orientation problems, and related movement problems. How can I find out more about the work of Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita?

Keep in mind that there are many kinds of balance problems, with different causes. The Brain That Changes Itself describes one approach that works for a number of these, developed by Paul Bach-y-Rita, and his team. This is cutting edge research, and not widely available as of yet. Unfortunately, Dr. Bach-y-Rita recently passed away. However, the lab he set up continues his work, and can be contacted through http://tcnl.bme.wisc.edu/ and it is here that Dr. Bach y Rita’s co-inventors work.

Where can I get neuroplastic treatment for a stroke, or brain trauma or injury that has left someone partially paralyzed?

The leader in the treatment of stroke-induced paralysis that Dr. Doidge would turn to for someone he cared about is Dr. Edward Taub. Contact his clinic at taubclinic@uabmc.edu, or call their toll free number: 866-554-TAUB. They also have techniques to help people with aphasia, who have lost the ability to speak.

They are the pioneers in this treatment, and you should contact them and see if they can help you. You can’t do this treatment on the Internet. You have to be willing to go to the clinic in Alabama for about 10 days. The cost is reasonable. Because Dr. Taub and his clinic pioneered this therapy, they have the most experience with it, by far. The Brain’s Way of Healing will describe new, additional techniques to help stroke. It will be published January 27, 2015.

I (or someone I love or care about) have movement problems from cerebral palsy, ms, or other brain problems.

The same Taub clinic has begun working with children with CP and has had successes with those other illnesses as well. These interventions don’t cure MS, but they can, at times, recruit healthy cells to take over lost functions.

What about loss of vision after a stroke or brain trauma?

One program that Dr. Doidge has not investigated, but that he has heard about, is Novavision. It is designed to help people who have lost parts of their visual fields after a brain injury, and involves retraining. Dr. Doidge has not yet studied it or met with the scientists, or with people who have tried it yet, but he thinks it looks interesting, and if he had this kind of problem, he would certainly look into it. Take a look at the site: http://www.novavision.com/index.php?gclid=CJ7FnoeqhJYCFQWlQAodJ0kXFw

Learning Disorders

The Arrowsmith School, (http://www.arrowsmithschool.org/) which Dr. Doidge wrote about in chapter 2, is an extraordinary school, with 90 branches now. The school, now with over 35 years of experience, uses neuroplasticity to treat and often overcome a large range of the commonest learning disorders, both verbal and nonverbal. Barbara Arrowsmith Young is the pioneer, par excellence, in brain-based assessment of learning problems (assessments that really show which brain function needs work) and brain exercises for these problems. While the school’s program has to be done at one of the school sites, they have a Cognitive Profile Questionnaire online to help individuals identify their cognitive learning profile.
Please note, The Brain’s Way of Healing describes other approaches to learning disorders, dyslexia, autism, sensory processing disorder and ADD. These approaches are definitely worth investigating as well.

But there is no Arrowsmith School in my area…

Arrowsmith School, (http://www.arrowsmithschool.org/) has a model in which it sets up programs in existing schools. If you are interested, contact the above address for further information. They are setting up new school programs. As of now, over ninety schools carry the Arrowsmith Program.

A reading disorder, caused by an auditory processing problem.

If it is a learning disorder based on auditory processing, Scientific Learning at http://www.scilearn.com/ has a program that has been tested and shown excellent results, with hundreds of thousands of people. This is the Fast ForWord program Dr. Doidge described in chapter 3. Developed by world leaders in neuroplasticity, the program can be ordered and done on one’s computer at home. It is quite fast, if you have the brain problem it treats, and you can do it at home. The Brain’s Way of Healing will describe additional programs for auditory processing, which Dr. Doidge has followed for seven years, and is very impressed with.

I want to preserve and improve my brain as I age…

Dr. Doidge wrote extensively of the work of Dr. Michael Merzenich, a professor who started a company, called Posit Science, at http://www.positscience.com. As far as Dr. Doidge is currently aware, their language-based program, Brain-HQ, has the most high quality scientific studies behind it, of any such program. It was developed by a team of neuroscientists with extraordinary scientific and practical knowledge. It is described in chapter 3, and more in chapter 10 of the book. Recently, their program for vision, called Insight, has been released, and it too is very sophisticated. As well, light cardiovascular exercise is very helpful for preserving the brain. Check with your doctor. Recent studies of brain exercises show that time spent on the ones described yield benefits for many years after, and the skills learned in the exercises generalize to everyday life.

I (or someone I love) have chemo-fog after receiving chemotherapy or a brain injury, and now have difficulty remembering names and words.

The same Posit Science program, described above, has been tested for chemo brain (or chemo fog) and for veterans with brain damage, with good results. It tunes up the brain. Contact http://www.positscience.com for more information. An injured brain becomes a noisy brain, that doesn’t make strong clear signals. This program may be helpful for other causes of brain problems, when your brain isn’t working as well, in the language-memory realm, as it once did, after some kind of injury.

How do I know that the person offering treatment is really up-to-date about neuroplasticity?

If you’ve read The Brain That Changes Itself, you yourself may have a grasp of some of the key principles of plastic change. As the neuroplastic paradigm progressively replaces the notion of the fixed brain, there is a possibility that some people or companies, just to “get in on the action,” will say, “You know, I rewire the brain,” without really being familiar with the core principles. Ask for an account of precisely how their treatment works, and copies of articles or studies on it, and see if that clinician is simply making the claim to sound au courant, or whether he or she has a more in-depth knowledge. People like Merzenich, Taub, Arrowsmith, Bach-y-Rita’s group, and the others described in the book, have all made the serious scientific attempt to validate their results. Other practitioners who are creative, but don’t have scientific backgrounds may also have programs that use plasticity, but check to see if they have written about their work, and can give a deeply thought out explanation of how it works.

What about brain exercises for ADD and plasticity?

Sometimes people are told they have ADD, when in fact they have a subtle learning disorder. If the brain has an area that has low capacity, when that area is taxed, you get frustrated, upset, distracted, and may even start to look impulsive. Some children seen by the Arrowsmith School come in diagnosed as having ADD or ADHD, and when they strengthen their weakened areas, they no longer need stimulants or other medication. In fact, those children may not have had ADD in the first place. Others at the Arrowsmith School—sometimes—find that they do have ADD and medication helps them do their brain exercises. There are other approaches to ADD that appear to involve engaging plasticity and training the brain. Dr. Doidge has yet to investigate these intensively, but he thinks that they may show promise. One is the use of brain exercises to train attention. (Discussed briefly in his book). There is promising work being done on people who have had strokes and lose the ability to pay close attention. They appear to respond to brain exercises. A group in the U.S., called CogMed, at http://www.cogmed.com/ has a group of exercises, with some studies done. (Again, Dr. Doidge has not visited CogMed labs or tried their exercises, but he notes they are doing studies.) Neurofeedback also has had important successes with ADD. See next section. The Brain’s Way of Healing will also describe new techniques, not described in the first book, that are very powerful, to treat ADD and ADHD. Stay tuned.

What about neurofeedback?

An approach called “neurofeedback” is also showing promise. It involves making people aware of their brain waves (patterns of neuronal firing) and learning to control them. A number of studies and hundreds of clinical cases show that it can be successful with the right client. It is discussed at: http://www.sharpbrains.com/blog/2008/01/25/how-strong-is-the-research-support-for-neurofeedback-treatment-of-children-with-adhd/#comment-191546 The International Society for Neurofeedback & Research, the ISNR, is a major North American group that puts on conferences, teaches, and is a focus for research. It is at http://www.isnr.org Another site that lists and discusses neurofeedback is: http://www.eegspectrum.com/ It has a section on other conditions treated. Neurofeedback is used to treat a variety of conditions, including fear, sleep problems, chronic pain, epilepsy, teeth grinding, certain kinds of brain and mood disorders, chronic fatigue, some learning disorders, TBI, Tourette Syndrome, etc.. In Toronto, Dr. Doidge refers to Dr. Lynda Thompson at the ADD Centre and Biofeedback Institute of Toronto, at http://www.addcentre.com

Are there other treatments or activites that Dr. Doidge thinks engage brain plasticity?

Scores of them. Dr. Doidge thinks that The Feldenkrais Method, Tai Chi, Meditation and martial arts (especially the internal ones), learning languages through immersion, learning to play a musical instrument, forms of physical and occupational therapy, often engage it in a sophisticated way.

What are some search terms for me to use as I look for neuroplastic treatments and the condition I am interested in?

Here are some good ones: cognitive neurorehabilitation, neurorehabilitation, neurorehab, cognitive rehab, experience-based plasticity, neuroplasticity, neural plasticity, neuronal plasticity, brain plasticity, plasticity. 

Questions arising from “Changing your Mind”—the latest film based on The Brain That Changes Itself.

How can I get a copy of the two films of the stories from The Brain That Changes Itself, “The Brain That Changes Itself,” and “Changing Your Mind.”

In Canada, contact either the CBC store, or the production company, 90th Parallel Productions, info@90thparallel.ca. Specify whether you want the shorter version broadcast in North America, or the longer versions broadcast in Europe.
In Australia, contact the SBS shop, at http://www.sbs.com.au/shop/product/category/DVDs/7361/Brain-that-Changes-Itself-The-Changing-Your-Mind

Who developed the Post-traumatic Stress Disorder treatment described in Changing Your Mind?

The new treatment for PTSD illustrated in the film, Changing Your Mind, which shows patients writing out narratives of their trauma and taking the medication propranolol, has been developed by Canadian psychologist Alain Brunet, Ph.D., associated with the Douglas Hospital and McGill University, Montreal Canada. The Brain That Changes Itself describes how the process of re-consolidation of memories puts memories into a plastic, malleable state. For more information on this treatment, contact Dr. Brunet, and see his bio, at http://www.douglasresearch.qc.ca/researcher/alain-brunet

Where is the treatment for Schizophrenia and its cognitive symptoms being developed and tested?

This groundbreaking work is being conducted by Dr. Sophia Vinogradov, at UCSF. A number of studies have been completed; others are due to be completed in 2014. Dr. Vinogradov’s bio is at http://psych.ucsf.edu/faculty.aspx?id=174 Her group’s first major study, showing improvement of the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia, came out in the American Journal of Psychiatry, and is at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19448187 This treatment is not widely available yet, and if you are interested in it, you should contact this group.

Obsessive compulsive disorder—how can I learn more about that new treatment for it?

The therapy for OCD described in Changing Your Mind, is described in detail in Dr. Doidge’s book, in the chapter of that title. It is based on the work of Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, whose own book on the subject is called “Brainlock.” It is a self-help book, though to do this technique it is easiest to have a clinician guiding one through it. Dr. Schwartz is based in Los Angeles, and has been affiliated with UCLA, where he has taught the technique. The patients in the film have all worked with Dr. Schwartz.