I’m reading “The Brain That Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge.
In the first section Doidge describes the case of a woman who has entirely (98%) lost her sense of balance after being over-prescribed the antibiotic gentamicin. (This is a known problem with gentamicin, but it’s still prescribed because it’s cheap. The loss of balance is irreversible.) She feels constantly as though she’s falling.
But the woman has been fortunate enough to find or be found by Paul Bach-y-Rita, a pioneer in treatment for her kind of problem. Bach-y-Rita has designed equipment that provides balance sense data through sensations on the tongue. Wearing a helmet and with a thin electrode strip on her tongue, both attached to a computer that processes the balance data, the woman’s brain quickly learns to reroute signals from her sensory cortex (the tongue tingling) to the region of the brain that is usually fired by the vestibulatory apparatus — the balance region.
Her brain does this without prompting and she learns to balance again. (There’s also a residual effect once the electrode is removed; she can balance without any apparent balance input!)
Building a Better Brain — in the second case study Doidge focuses on Barbara Arrowsmith Young’s discovery that learning disabilities can be mitigated by training the weaker areas of the brain to be stronger.
Part 3 – Brain Training Software — Doidge explores the incredible contributions of Michael Merzenich (the founder of Posit Science).