These theories developed in conjunction with Michael Merzenich have a great deal of scientific support. Check out the Norman Doidge video (on the brain and neuroplasticity, in 3 parts) and Michael Merzenich videos (TED talk, google talk) on the web.
Here is an extract from a 2008 interview with Doidge:
KERRY O'BRIEN: You write that humans instinctively were on the right track in the age of rote learning in education and you cite Abraham Lincoln's skill as an orator as an example. Can you elaborate?
NORMAN DOIDGE: Sure. In the '60s, there were things that were part of a kind of classical education that people did away with 'cause they thought that they were irrelevant like an almost fanatical attention to elocution and handwriting, or memorising long poems. But, it now turns out that what these activities did is they exercised very important parts of the brain that allow you to think in long sentences, have deep internal monologues and a certain amount of grace in all kinds of expression. And probably a lot of damage was done by doing away with these exercises that were there for good reasons we didn't understand.
KERRY O'BRIEN: You mean that they have reduced the scope of the functions of a child's brain as they grow to adulthood?
NORMAN DOIDGE: Yeah. The simplest example would be memory of long verses of poetry. It allows you to speak in public and have long, deep paragraphs of thought in private. When you reduce the amount of memory in those processors, we're reduced to a world of sound bites.
KERRY O'BRIEN: So, somebody else might say, well, you know, the kind of oratory of a Lincoln is simply a lost art. You would add to that; you would say it's a lost art …
NORMAN DOIDGE: That can be recovered.
KERRY O'BRIEN: ... but a lost art that was lost in the way we learnt, which you connect to the plasticity of the brain.
NORMAN DOIDGE: Most definitely.
KERRY O'BRIEN: Does mainstream science take it as seriously as it should?
NORMAN DOIDGE: I would say that mainstream neuroscience is now smitten with neuroplasticity as the new revolutionary paradigm that is giving us great insights in the levels of activity that are going on in the brain. And an example of it is just the following amazing fact: that when you think thoughts or learn something, you actually turn on genes inside the nerve cells in your brain to change the number of connections between those cells. You can double them in a matter of hours between nerve cell A and nerve cell B. So, what we've discovered with neuroplasticity is that consciousness can direct genetic expression, and neuroscientists are looking at all the sort of points along that trail from consciousness, ultimately to structural change in the brain and altered behavioural expression as one of the chief tasks right now.
- Kerry O'Brien speaks with Norman Doidge