Monday, March 26, 2012

Improved Wiring Of The Brain - Trainable Neuroplasticity - The Braintenance Blog

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I noticed the article which follows in a recent brief from Big Think, a wonderful informative and insightful resource for articles about the Human Potential Movement and about Global Futurism. Please take a moment to read the article, a portion of which I have extracted below, and then hit the "BACK" button on your browser to come back for some Braintenance commentary and an extrapolation of what this means for the potential development of the Human Species.

Learning to See in 3-D: A Neurobiologist Rewires Her Own Brain

What's the Big Idea?

If the scientific consensus had been right, Sue Barry would still be seeing in 2-D. Barry was born with strabismus, a condition in which the eyes couldn't look in the same place at the same time. By the age of two, she’d undergone three surgeries, but the operations succeeded only in making her eyes appear not to be crossed -- they kept on functioning separately. The whole world looked to Barry like a kid's drawing.

As a child, when she saw herself in the mirror, if there was a speck of dirt or a smudge on the surface of the glass, she would try to remove it from her clothes. “I didn’t have a sense of space expanding beyond the mirror,” she explains. Why anyone would call a book Through the Looking Glass was a mystery to her.

She knew that a tree had branches, but she couldn't see the layers of space between the branches. “It was only after I gained 3-D vision that I realized that tree canopies look round and that the outer branches enclose and capture whole vibes of space through which the inner branches permeate,” she explains.

But it wasn’t until college that she realized that her physical sense of herself in the world was dramatically different from other people's. All her life, Barry had used monocular cues to sense depth, shading, and shadow to determine that some things were behind things or some things were rounder than other things. She thought she was seeing normally.

During a lecture on physiology, a professor described the impression of depth and dimension that arises from stereovision. “I remember leaving the classroom and thinking, what is he talking about?”

At the same time, she learned that there was a critical period in early childhood during which stereovision must be developed. According to the traditional understanding of neural functioning, Barry had missed the window during which infants build new neural connections and pick up the skills – turning the eyes in to fixate on an object, or out to see an object in the distance – that allow them to see in three dimensions.

As a professor neurobiology at Mount Holyoke College, Barry herself taught students the conventional wisdom that the human brain is malleable “during a ‘critical period’ in infancy but loses the capacity to rewire in adulthood” -- using her own story to illustrate the point. Then, when she was 48 years old, she saw a developmental optometrist, and began training her eyes to see differently. She spent months practicing visual therapy exercises.

What's the Significance?

Here are several awe-inspiring conclusions to emerge (or to be reinforced) from the auspicious article above:

1) The adaptability/plasticity of the brain does not cease at a particular age or phase during the course of a lifetime -- we can voluntarily, with proper direction, re-instruct our brains to improve and expand their functioning;

2) The article serves to reinforce some of the notions (many through NLP, hypnotherapy, EMDR, RET and the like) of the powerful utilization of the eyes to access very specific parts of the brain and its many functionings;

3) Environmental or voluntary processes can actually change the biochemistry and electromagnetic functioning of the brain -- this gives us the ability to change the way we sense, perceive and think about things. It shows wonderful promise for those persons with sensory impediments, learning disabilities, and ambitions to enhance cognitive and perhaps intuitive acuity;

4) It means that we can consciously and purposefully intercede in the processes of our subconscious minds and effect repairs or restructuring of unhealthy thinking and undesirable habits; and most importantly, that

5) We are not sentenced to the skill sets which our minds offer us -- that we are, in so many words, the masters of our own minds, and that we can develop them if we desire to, and if we are given the proper instruction and tools.

Perhaps genius can be a learned upgrade instead of a selective and often capricious birthright!

Douglas E. Castle for The Braintenance Blog 

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