The Brain That Changes Itself

Topics: Neuron, Lev Vygotsky, Brain Pages: 2 (746 words) Published: April 19, 2009
Life Span Development Current Issues Paper The Brain That Changes Itself One particular case involving a woman by the name of Barbara Arrowsmith Young illustrates an example of how this change can occur later in development. Barbara Young had areas of brilliance as a child; her auditory and visual memories were extraordinary. But her brain was “asymmetrical,” meaning that parts of her brain associated with her brilliance coexisted with areas of retardation which lead to an array of cognitive problems. Barbara’s most debilitating problems existed in her disability to relate symbols normally and to understand cause and effect. She could only understand symbols with effort and constant repetition and she could sense meaning everywhere but could never verify because she could not interpret cause and effect. She therefore got through school by memorizing whole pages of work. Barbara’s extraordinary memory allowed her to progress through high school and gave her the opportunity to attend college. Whilein college Barbara discovered a book written by Aleksandr Luria called, “The Man with a Shattered World”. Luria’s book summarized and commented on a diary written by a soldier Lyova Zazetsky and mapped which areas of the brain commonly processed mental functions. Zazetsky had sustained a bullet wound to the head which left him disabled in much of the way Barbara was. This association greatly interested her and lead her to link Luria’s research with the neuroplastic discoveries of Mark Rosenzweig. Rosenzweig was a scientist whohad shown, in essence, that the brain can be modified. Barbaraunderstood that if she could apply the discoveries of Rosenweig to the mapped brain graphs of Lyova she could solve her cognitive disabilities. This application became her life’s work. Barbara isolated herself and began toiling at mental exercises she had designed. She exercised her weakest function relating symbols in a wide variety of ways. One such exercise involved reading off...
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