Tag Archive: neuroscience

brainThe final section of case studies in Oliver Sacks’ ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat’ is called ‘The World of the Simple’.

The first of the four essays examines the case of a young woman called Rebecca who, because of a number of physical and neurological handicaps, had spent her life being branded as a moron.

Sacks admits that he also initially regarded her as little more than a “broken creature” and something of a hopeless case. The neurological tests he carried out only served to confirm her retarded state. But when he saw her outside the clinic, he formed an entirely different impression.

He witnessed her instinctive and serene response to nature then later observed that when she danced or performed in theatre workshops she exhibited none of the awkwardness and clumsiness he had assumed was her permanent condition.

All this forced him to question how such subjects are judged; he wrote: “I thought, as I watched her on the bench – enjoying not just a simple but a sacred view of nature – our approach, our ‘evaluations’, are ridiculously inadequate”.

Reading this chapter made me reflect how the same inadequacies Sacks described can routinely be found in our educational institutions. For instance, standardized testing in schools is,at best, only a measure of one aspect of a young child’s intelligence. Continue reading



The BBC Horizon documentary ‘The Creative Brain – How Insight Works’ written and directed by Kate Dart offered food for thought on how to get  the mind working to its maximum potential.

One neuroscientist says that even though the creative  ‘eureka moment’ may seem to be a flash of inspiration out of the nowhere, the process that leads up to it is actually more likely to be a slow and meandering one. The direct A to B route doesn’t allow enough scope for the kind of divergent thinking that gives the best ideas nor will it help in seeing problems or challenges  from a lateral perspective. Continue reading


‘This is Your Brain on Music’ is a fascinating book about connections – exploring how emotional links are made through memories and interactions while listening to or performing music.

Daniel Levitin starts from the basics, asking the question ‘What is music?’ –  examining what it is about music that makes us obsess about it.  He writes: “the emotions we experience in response to music involve structures deep in the primitive reptilian regions of the cerebelar vermis, and the amygdala – the heart of emotional processing in the cortex”. A phrase like this, taken out of context, sounds a bit dry but he manages to weave such information into a text rich in anecdotal asides and down to earth examples. Continue reading

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