by Victoria Brewster, MSW – SJS Staff Writer in Canada
I am an avid reader and at any one point in time am reading between 2-3 books depending on my mood and where I am when reading, at home, at work on break, at a medical appointment, etc. Books are a wonderful way to learn about and inform oneself of a topic.
Currently, I am reading ‘The Woman Who Changed her Brain’ by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young who happens to be a fellow Canadian. I find neuroscience fascinating and enjoy reading books that discuss the fluidity of the brain. Neuroplasticity is how flexible the brain is. Not long ago it was thought the brain was static and hard-wired. This has now been proven to be untrue.
Barbara Arrowsmith-Young is a woman that has many learning difficulties, disorders or challenges. She struggled through both primary and secondary school and only in college came across information on neuroscience. She happened to read a book that was written by a Russian man who worked with and knew a soldier, Comrade Zazetsky who was injured in World War II and suffered from injuries to his brain from a bullet wound.
This soldier kept a diary trying to make sense of his injuries. He knew something was wrong, but did not have the comprehension to understand what was wrong, but described living in a fog. The psychologist who works with him is Aleksandr Luria from Moscow, who happens to work in an army hospital in the former country of Russia.
Arrowsmith-Young could relate to Zazetsky as she describes often feeling the same way! She reads the Zazetsky diary and the research that Luria wrote up and uses it to create a program for herself which helps her to finally comprehend and integrate learning to tell time, reading, understanding conversations and to make connections between words. This leads her to open a school that focuses on those with learning disabilities- children and adults in Toronto, Canada; The Arrowsmith School.
Neuroscience is proving that engaging in certain mental tasks numerous times can change the structure of the brain! This is wonderful news for those with learning disabilities, sufferers of strokes, Traumatic Brain Injury, other head trauma, those born with developmental challenges, Autism, Asperger’s, those with cognitive deficits like Mild Cognitive Impairment or Dementia.
‘The Brain that Changes Itself’ by Norman Doidge, also a Canadian, is worth a read too.
Both books show the history of neuroscience, but present it in an easily readable way.
*http://www.arrowsmithschool.org/arrowsmithprogram-background/pdf/building_a_better_brain.pdf *http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/mental-health-aspergers-syndrome *http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mild-cognitive-impairment/DS00553 *http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/About-dementia/Dementias/What-is-dementia/Facts-about-dementia?gclid=CLnat4_Yn7QCFVCd4AodISQAaA
** First posted at: http://northernmsw.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/the-power-of-books/