The mind programs the functioning of the brain

Extract adapted from
The brain’s way of healing: Stories of remarkable recoveries and discoveries
By Norman Doidge MD Scribe Books

We are born with a limited number of “hardwired” reflexes, but the human being has the “longest apprenticeship” of all animals, during which learning takes place!

Homosapiens,” Feldenkrais wrote,
arrives with a tremendous part of his nervous mass left unpatterned, unconnected, so that each individual, depending on where he happens to be born, can organize his brain to fit the demands of his surroundings.”

As early as 1949, he wrote that the brain could form new neural paths to do so. (1)

In 1981 he wrote,

The mind gradually develops and begins to program the functioning of the brain. My way of looking at the mind and body involves a subtle method of rewiring ‘the structure of the entire human being to be functionally well integrated, which means being able to do what the individual wants. Each individual has the choice to wire himself in a special way.”

When we have experience, he wrote,

the neural substrate [the neuronal connections in the brain] organizes it self.”

Feldenkrais often said, as his student David Zemach-Bersin points out, that when there is a neurological injury, plenty of brain matter usually remains to take over the damaged functions.

Moshe Feldenkrais was one of the first neuroplasticians.

(1) That neuroplastic point was already a theme in his Body and Mature Behaviour, Ch.5. In 1977 one of Feldenkrais’s students, Eileen Bach-y-Rita, introduced him to her husband, the neuroplastlcity pioneer Paul Bach-y-Rita (see Chapter 7). Feldenkrais read Paul Bach-y-Rita’s work and actively began to integrate his concepts, which fit well with his own. In 2004 Bach-y-Rita developed a project to study Feldenkrais’s results with head injuries but died before he could complete it. E. Bach-y-Rita Morgenstern, personal communication; also see her article: New Pathways in the Recovery from Brain injury: Somatics, Spring/Summer 1981


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