Thinking with a damaged brain

lost_brain.jpgJournalist Floyd Skoot has written an insightful article for Lost Magazine about his experiences of virus-induced brain damage and the curious effects it has had on his speech, movement and mathematical ability.

Skoot interlaces personal experience with his wide reading in the cognitive sciences to bring alive the generalities and clinical detachment typically found in neurological textbooks.

In their fascinating study, Brain Repair, an international trio of neuroscientists ‚Äî Donald G. Stein from America, Simon Brailowsky from Mexico, and Bruno Will from France ‚Äî report that after injury “both cortical and subcortical structures undergo dramatic changes in the pattern of blood flow and neural activity, even those structures that do not appear to be directly or primarily connected with the zone of injury.” From this observation, they conclude that “the entire brain ‚Äî not just the region around the area of damage ‚Äî reorganizes in response to brain injury.” The implications of this are staggering; my entire brain, the organ by which my very consciousness is controlled, was reorganized one day ten years ago. I went to sleep here and woke up there; the place looked the same but nothing in it worked the way it used to.

It’s rare to find such a carefully considered and well-informed account of brain damage from someone who has suffered the consequences.

One other source, however, is a book called Injured Brains of Medical Minds where medical people, including some neuroscientists and psychologists, discuss their own experience of brain injury. The book covers 120 years of accounts, with some only attributed to ‘anonymous’.

Link to article ‘Thinking with a damaged brain’.
Link to information on book ‘Injured Brains of Medical Minds’.

One thought on “Thinking with a damaged brain”

  1. Floyd Skloot’s great “Gray Area: Thinking with a Damaged Brain” article seems to have been published before at ‘Creative Nonfiction'(?) and then again in the book ‘The Best American Science Writing 2000’ where I saw it the first time last month.

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