Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Stroke of Insight

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey
Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. (2008, Viking)

In 1996, Jill Bolte Taylor had a catastrophic hemorrhage in the left hemisphere of her brain. A neuroanatomist at McLean Hospital, she was in a unique position to savor the experience; and it's mildly miraculous that she has recovered enough to report what it was like. From waking up with a headache, to a couple of deeply bewildered hours struggling to figure out how to dial a phone, to the rigors of rehabilitation aided by her mother, Dr. Taylor reports both what the brain is doing (and not doing) and what she is thinking and feeling. Because of the location of the stroke, her language skills and executive functions had to be rebuilt, but she gained access to some parts of her mind that work without those functions. The description of this experience sounds much more mystical than scientific; we are really not used to hearing scientists talk this way, but she's very passionate about it, and persuasive.

July 2008, by email

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