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Thread: visual aphasia

  1. #1
    freezeframe is offline Key Member
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    Default visual aphasia

    There's an interesting review of Oliver Sacks's (the guy who wrote The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat) new book The Mind's Eye in this month's Harper's. The review talks about plasticity of perception and describes an interesting case (that I didn't know of before but you probably have) of visual aphasia (or as they called it, verbal blindness) reported in 1892. The patient, after a stroke, lost his ability to read. He could speak and write but he could not read or name letters even though he knew that he was looking at letters.

    I'm generally not interested in neuroscience (purely on principle) but this is really interesting.

    Anyway, here's an interesting article from NPR (and a cool animation and an audio recording of the radio program) about Sacks's patient who has visual aphasia:

    The Writer Who Couldn't Read : Krulwich Wonders? : NPR

    Fascinating stuff.

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    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: visual aphasia

    Interesting! I'm one of the people who has mild face-blindness (the subject of the "mistook his wife for a hat") and there are some pretty funny articles about people who are affected by that, but when it's severe (mine is not) it can be very, very difficult. People aren't able to recognize their own family members (my problem is photographs and movies). I can't imagine what it would be like to not recognize words. And what an amazing solution he came up with. Thanks for sharing this.
    Last edited by Barb_D; 26-Apr-2011 at 22:04.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: visual aphasia

    An interesting, but labour intensive, solution.

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    freezeframe is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: visual aphasia

    I chanced on this today. Not entirely related, but I thought it interesting.

    Study of Vision Tackles a Philosophy Riddle


    If a blind person were suddenly able to see, would he be able to recognize by sight the shape of an object he previously knew only by touch? Presented with a cube and a globe, could he tell which was which just by looking?

    Pause for a moment and think of the answer. Then read on.



    The question goes to the heart of a problem in the philosophy of mind: Is there an innate conception of space common to both sight and touch, or do we learn that relationship only through experience? Research published online April 10 in the journal Nature Neuroscience may have finally answered the question, which has vexed philosophers and scientists for more than 300 years.



    ...


    The new research appears to show definitively that Locke was right. The brain cannot immediately make sense of what the eyes are taking in, and the blind man given the ability to see cannot distinguish the two objects. But he can very quickly learn to do so.

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