Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Scribe
vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for the author, use spoiler warnings if needed/ a little test


psb wrote:
There are studies that show when a blind person learns to read braille, unused areas of the visual cortex are taken over by the sense of touch. Brain scans show that the reading finger becomes linked to an area in the visual cortex. Braille is difficult to master for those who become blind late in life.


It appears all learning is more difficult later in life. Children can learn a new language much faster than older people. Babies can learn to swim faster. Musical instruments are much easier to learn when started very young. The brain is still developing when we are very young and connections being made for things we do. Like with Mike, those parts of the brain where the connections normally used in sight that would have helped him with things like the 3D effect of things, were not being used and as they suspected, had probably found other things, other jobs for those connections to do. They didnt go unused, or die, they just found new jobs where they were needed. Its harder as an adult because by then, all those neuro transmitter pathways have already assigned themselves to something to do and theres not a lot of unused ones to take up the new challenges, such as 3D or braille. Its so interesting how the body grows and at what pace and each part for what reason. Its like a new born baby with his legs all tightly jammed up to his chest,and being able to do that for some time to come in a way that would kill an adults legs LOL, all because he doesnt have formed kneecaps yet! If we really do only use a very small percentage of our brains, I think thats the part that any new sense may have to try to tap into for connections, or in a sense, override some that are being used now with the newer input. If there is a large amount of our brain that doesnt get used, you wonder why, whats its function then. Or is it like the part of a computer hard drive where all the basics that are needed to even run the whole computer are kept and a person using the computer can not get into it (without special equipment or the knowledge of how to anyway to retrieve that info) or else the warning you get for trying to, something like, caution, accessing these files could damage entire hard drive memory- something like that, would happen. Maybe there are protected parts of the brain that are being used, or are backups that we just cant consciously access and any fooling with them would be like what would happen if that part of the brain took a severe blow and was damaged. If we dont use all of our brain power as they say, its there for some reason, not just as part of matter to balance out the form of the brain. Like the joke goes...if we only use 10% of our brain like they say...then there is a 90% chance that they are wrong lol. But yes, as you say, and as Mike learned, some wiring is accessed and assigned specific duties very early in our life and if not, they find other duties and you cant just undo that to retrieve them for use as an adult. Same with the braille thing I would think.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Contributor
MahaBali
Posts: 14
Registered: ‎07-16-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for the author, use spoiler warnings if needed/ a little test

hey then - this connection between phonetics and reading might be waht is missing with Mike - if he learned to sound the word while he read the letters it might help him... as soon as he read BRA he would know it was probably "BRAN" for example!
Author
RobertKurson
Posts: 34
Registered: ‎07-03-2007
0 Kudos

Re: lessons



MahaBali wrote:
Following Viv's lead - i was curious about something

Mike's opthalmologist kept saying "your eyes are fine, it's your brain" - how come he never himself referred Mike to "vision scientists" like Ione Fine?

Mike just really got lucky to have met her, but it seems that she should have been part of his post-vision therapy by default (even if his case is rare).

Any ideas?




This is an excellent question, and one I wish I had addressed a bit more thoroughly in the book. I think the answer is that, though Dr. Goodman's hunch was correct, no one knew that Mike's brain could not improve at the task of vision. It seemed absolutely sensible that Mike should be able to improve with time and practice - after all, it had been 43 years since he'd seen, so it was bound to take some adjustment. I think Mike first met Ione Fine about four or five months into his new vision - not a huge amount of time. Even Mike still expected, at that early stage, to improve...if only he put his mind and heart into it. I think that's partly why Ione's assessment was so shocking to him; he'd never been unable to improve on anything he'd tried in life, so long as he threw himself into it.


Learn more about Crashing Through.
Author
RobertKurson
Posts: 34
Registered: ‎07-03-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for the author, use spoiler warnings if needed/ a little test



psb wrote:
There are studies that show when a blind person learns to read braille, unused areas of the visual cortex are taken over by the sense of touch. Brain scans show that the reading finger becomes linked to an area in the visual cortex. Braille is difficult to master for those who become blind late in life.




This is exactly right. Ione Fine is still scanning Mike's brain - we saw her recently in Seattle when Mike and I did a bookstore talk and signing there. I'm very curious to find out what she discovers in these new scans...

Ione might be the best explainer of things I've ever encountered. I was just reviewing some of my interviews with her and found, just randomly on first glance, a few explanations she'd provided to me early on, when I had no idea about any of this stuff about knowledge and vision and what it takes to see. Here are a couple, just to give you an idea about how she speaks:

"The way to get at this, Rob, is: suppose an alien came down and you had to describe a shoe to it. You’d say, shoes tend to have rubber bottoms, they’re often brown, they have this kind of diagonal lacing with strings through holes. Then the alien would wander around and finally he’d see a shoe and say, “Ah, that fits all the clues I’ve been given; that might be a shoe.” But the alien wouldn’t look at it and automatically think, “There’s a shoe,” the way we do. We have these neurons in our brain that are just there to recognize shoes, and when they see a shoe they fire up and we know it’s there. So it’s very unconscious with us. Whereas an alien has to think through the shoe. And Mike has to do something very similar. He has these visual clues that he uses, and when he matches up something with these clues, he says, “That must be a shoe.”"

On the subject of the work required for Mike to see:

Robert: I can imagine that huge amount of work is part of why his predecessors felt overwhelmed…
Ione: The best example is if you’ve ever been to a crowded disco with a strobe, there’s a ton of just shapes and colors and noise – and the strobing, which makes it very difficult to parse objects – and it’s really overwhelming. And even if you took out the noise it’s visually overwhelming. The strobing removes our depth cues and it removes our motion cues. If you can imagine, Mike has a kind of similar deficit when you remove his pictorial cues. And there’s the same sort of visual clutter. We get clutter in the disco because it’s crowded and strobed and such; he gets the clutter because all these objects aren’t necessarily making much sense to him.


Learn more about Crashing Through.
Inspired Correspondent
Wrighty
Posts: 1,762
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

explanations


RobertKurson wrote:
Ione might be the best explainer of things I've ever encountered. I was just reviewing some of my interviews with her and found, just randomly on first glance, a few explanations she'd provided to me early on, when I had no idea about any of this stuff about knowledge and vision and what it takes to see.


Robert,
I thought Ione's explanations made a huge difference in this book. I also think yours did as well. You both have simplified things but neither of you have talked down to us (the readers) or made us feel dumb. You have made it easy to understand and interesting and I have really enjoyed the book. When I first heard about it I was afraid the scientific aspects would turn me off but that wasn't the case at all. It was so well told that I was fascinated by all of the story and I'm very glad I read it.
Scribe
vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Reviews

Hey Robert! I wrote a review of your book over the weekend, on the page that shows your book, its showing now, along with a few others' reviews. So maybe we will help get the word out about what a fantastic book this is! :smileywink:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Users Online
Currently online: 37 members 250 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: