Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Estrogen Dilemma

Detail of a New York Times Advertisement - 1895Image via WikipediaInteresting article about the use of hormone replacement... also has some discussion of cognition.
Magazine Preview - The Estrogen Dilemma -
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gifted and talented but with insecurity and low self esteem

AFINS logo. AFINS is a non-profit assciation f...Image via WikipediaStephanie S. Tolan – co-author of the book Guiding the Gifted Child – finds that “Many gifted adults seem to know very little about their minds and how they differ from more ‘ordinary’ minds. The result of this lack of self-knowledge is often low, sometimes cripplingly low self esteem.” [From her article Self-Knowledge, Self-Esteem and the Gifted Adult.]

So how to counteract and change unhealthy self esteem?
A start is to honestly recognize your abilities and accomplishments, without qualifying or deflating them, as in “Oh, anyone could do that.”
Another effective approach is the cognitive therapy strategy of getting aware of demeaning statements – especially automatic thoughts – you make about yourself (or accept from others), such as “I’m no good at doing that…” – then arguing the logic, validity, merits and faults of the statement, such as: “Well, maybe I am not as skilled as whoever.. but I have been told my work is good and I can get better if I choose to work at it.”
Overcoming impostor feelings
Also related to insecurity is the reaction that a number of talented actors and other people talk about: feeling oneself to be an “impostor.”
Research into this impostor phenomenon or syndrome began with the work of psychotherapists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, who found many women with notable achievements also had high levels of self-doubt which could not be equated with self-esteem, anxiety, or other traits, and seemed to involve a deep sense of inauthenticity and an inability to internalize their successes.
They often had the belief they were “fooling” other people, were “faking it” or getting by from having the right contacts or just being “lucky.” Many held a belief they would be exposed as frauds or fakes. [From my article Gifted Women: Identity and Expression.]

Gifted and talented but with insecurity and low self esteem
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hear This: Supporting Indigenous learners and employees who have impaired hearing

Apparently, Australian aborigines  suffer from a high rate of hearing loss and auditory processing disorder.  40-90% of Australian aboriginal children have hearing loss.  Some of the hearing loss comes from otis media from being brought up in overcrowded housing.    The article below details some of the problems that aborigines have in the workforce as they negotiate cross cultural differences and hearing problems.
Hear This: Supporting Indigenous learners and employees who have impaired hearing
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Update with Audiologist

en:Steps involved in hearing speech: Sound sig...Image via Wikipedia
I called my audiologist, Maxine Young, to schedule an appointment for the next steps on fixing my hearing, last week.  As my gentle readers know, I suffer from tinnitus and Central Auditory Processing Disorder.

I caught her up on the various therapies that I had been doing since I talked to her last:  Tomatis/Balametrics, Interactive Metronome, Vision Therapy, and Occupational Therapy for Vestibular Problems.  I felt that despite the onset of tinnitus that my listening abilities have improved. I can hear lyrics in many more songs than what I used to.  I still have problems hearing in noise and talking in groups. I might be lip reading, as well.

I also told her that I will be having surgery to fix my sinuses and unblock my nose at the end of October.  Her feeling was that I should not do any more auditory therapy until after the surgery.  We would review the findings of the audiologist I had seen for tinnitus and that, probably we could find a cheaper hearing aide.  The hearing aide that was recommended was the Widex Mind 440, the Cadillac of hearing aids.   I trust Maxine's judgment on the hearing aids.  While it is nice to save money,  it is important to watch quality.   

Also, the sinus surgery could possibly relieve some of the fluid that is in my ear and improve my hearing and balance.  I think I will have to update the nasal surgeon  on my various conditions and make sure that the surgery planned will address any sinus problems that impact my vision and hearing as well as the reduced sense of smell.  Fluid in the ear would lead to a reduction in hearing of high frequencies -- I have hearing loss at 4,000, 6,000 and 8,000 Hz in my right ear; and hearing loss at 8,000 Hz in my left ear.

Right now, Maxine thinks we should work on amplification first and then auditory processing.  But, we will have a consult after my ears have healed from the surgery and plan a course of action at the beginning of next year. 

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dancing with the Stars?

I am not Bristol Palin, nor do I ever wish to be. I have no famous mother so no one is going to take some one like me with no physical talent, spend a nice chunk of change on lessons, and jet me into the ranks of the rich and famous.

 If I can't be Bristol Palin, I am certainly not going to be the great ballerina, Margot Fonteyn, either. Nor will I dance with the Pennsylvania Ballet Company, Philadanco, BalletX, or Koresh Dance Company.

 But I can be treated by someone who takes care of the toes of many of the aforementioned companies. While doing Occupational Therapy for balance problems, my OT noticed that my feet don't point out straight and that this impacts my gait (technical word for walking).

 If my feet aren't stable, then my balance won't be completely stable. The OT verified this by having me walk a straight line and I wobbled a little bit. So, off I go to the Podiatrist.

 I found Dr. Diamond at the Center for Enhanced Podiatric Function who takes care of most of the dance companies in Philadelphia. The man knows the toes and blends Eastern and Western medicine in treating foot problems. His assistant took my history and then had me walk on the TOG Gait Scanner, a digitized scanner of the foot.
 The TOG Gait Scanner produces a little "heat map" of the foot showing the pressure points where you foot hits the surface.

 Next, I saw the Doctor who told me that contrary to what I had thought about my feet: I do not have high arches but, apparently, my foot rolls outward. We will work on training the foot to roll inward.

 Dr. Diamond had his assistant "rack my toes". I put my foot into a contraption that stabilizes it and then stretches my Big Toe and the First Toe for 10 minutes. Then, she gave my foot muscles some stimulation with an electric stimmer for another 10 minutes in order to soften them up. Then Dr. Diamond taped up my foot.  He uses the KinesioTaping Method of taping.  Kinesio Taping uses the body's natural healing process by activating neurological and circulatory systems.    I am to keep my foot taped for 2 days and then I can take off the bandages. I will see him weekly to train the toes.

 I felt a lot better after my toes were taped. I felt the ground solidly under my feet and psychologically, felt more secure and grounded. It is amazing how changing your feet can change your overall sense of well being. It's too bad that I hadn't had this taken care of before I started OT for balance. But, who would have thunk it. It's amazing how all of my problems get tied together. Poor stance impacts posture and balance. Lousy balance and posture lead to misaligning the body and impacts focus. Lousy focus and vision problems lead to bad posture as you try to compensate for a weaker eye and poor eyesight.

 It's a shame these problems weren't taken care of earlier. Not that I would have been Dancing with the Stars, but my adolescence would have been different. I do enjoy moving my body. I think I would have been one of the chorus members in a school musical or something like that. I would have gone out disco dancing more in college. Well... here's what seeing what maturity will bring.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

As She Is

I was listening to the radio in my car the other day and I was quite taken in by a song that I want to share with my Gentle Readers.  I didn't know the title of the song, so I grabbed my iphone and hit the app, Shazam, and pointed it at the radio.  Shazam is rather cool.  You can point it at the radio and it will give you all kinds of information about a song, its title, its lyrics, the band, etc.  You can post to Facebook and find the song on Youtube as well.   I was at a red light while I was Shazamming... don't do this while driving.

The song was "As She Was" by the Talking Heads.   As my hearing improves and I can hear most of the lyrics to songs, I have been reliving my youth.  This song is about a girl having an out of body experience while tripping on LSD on a field outside the Yoo-Hoo factory in Baltimore.  I can't help but identifying with this song.  Not that I take LSD; but that through much of life, I was out-of-body looking down at the world from a distance. I was a lot more disconnected from the world than the girl in the song.  But on a good day, there was a certain synchronicity with the universe but from a distance. 

Now, through all the occupational and physical therapy, I am joining the universe. So, therapy is actually bringing me into the land of the living.  I feel like I am "Rising up above the Earth and Moving into the Universe".   I am having more relationships with the world around me -- both inanimate objects and living creatures.  This has a lot of implications for consciousness.   The girl in the song is joining the land of the missing persons but I am going in reverse and joining the land of everyone and everything.    She is missing enough to feel alright and I am seeing, hearing, feeling  more to feel alright.  Her sense of time is looking back at her experience in the past.... my sense of time is changing to look at things as they are occurring right now

To paraphrase the song:  "the world is moving and I am right there with it".

As I Am... As She Is. 

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bye Bye to Vision Therapy

Vision Image via Wikipedia
Parting is such sweet sorrow!  Truer words have not been spoken. 

I saw Dr. Herzberg for a checkup today and got my discharge from vision therapy.   My vision has improved tremendously since the beginning of my vision therapy and I am extremely grateful to her and her assistant, Marianne, for all the work that they have done on my behalf.

Dr. Herzberg checked my reading and I have gone up from 205 words/minute to 385 words/minute with 70% comprehension.  Yay!

Binocular vision is getting there.  I can do it selectively when I am paying attention.  The good doctor wants me to continue working at home with the eccentric circles and the looking at you finger in real space exercises.   I can also continue with the reading exercises.  Dr. Herzberg thinks that the binocular vision will be helped with the occupational  therapies that I am doing and with, of all things, my sinus surgery.   I told Dr. Herzberg that the diaphram breathing that I am doing with the neuropsychologist, Dr. Berman, helps with the binocular vision.  When I am breathing properly, I can get 3D vision.  Unfortunately, this is hard to sustain in everyday life.  I have massively blocked sinuses.  Additionally, there is some inter-relationship with sinuses and the eyes.   She gave me a list of the sinuses that impact vision so that I can make sure the surgeon will ensure that they are opened.  Who'd have thought that the journey up the cortex would be going through the eyes and up the nose?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Autism Awareness Month, EASe Video Games Are Therapeutic Fun For Kids With Autism

 "Kids with autism typically have issues with balance and sound, but they love to careen a tiny toy tractor through the topsy-turvy 3-D toyland of an EASe video game from Vision Audio, Inc., collecting treasures while listening to specially designed music. The video game is more than fun it helps children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) learn to cope with noise, regulate their balance and improve sensory processing."
Autism Awareness Month, EASe Video Games Are Therapeutic Fun For Kids With Autism
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Girls and Aspergers: I Don't Do Girl Talk

"Dear Jenna,
    You’ve been a good friend and we’ve had some good times but I can’t do this anymore. The phone calls, the girl talks, the feelings thing-it’s too much for me. Your expectations exhaust me. I have to do things your way and I don’t know what your way is. Don’t call me ever again.
    Have a great life.

Dr. Mary Cohen opens her presentation on Girls and Aspergers with this letter and it does sum up a lot for me. I don't have Aspergers but there is a certain amount of this presentation that just does ring true with me.   Other women who share this problem are many women who are gifted and talented.

Sometimes Girl Talk and the attendant cooing and petting and tending and niceness that goes with it is just too much for me.  "If you don't mind, are you sure this is OK?  We could do it another way, if you like?"  "Maybe like this?  Maybe like that?" On the other hand, there's the implicit threat that if I don't play ball, I will be OUT of the group and not just left alone to my own devices but will become the target of some bullying.

So I coo, chime, and smile, Smile, SMILE!  Because we are all SOOO NICE!  Regardless of the underlying dynamics, we are never, God Forbid, ANGRY!  We don't express our needs, until we are way past the point of civil conversation.  So we need to watch body language: whether a smile expresses the soul  or is a pair of stretched lips; the shoulders relaxed or taut; hand gestures fluid or clenched; and eyes expressing softness or hardness. 

But, you know,  at the end of the day... we all know that this is just not me.  And I am not that interested in tending and petting  after a certain point.   When I do care for someone and want to be affectionate, I am unmistakably so.  But, I am not interested in creating a general ambiance around me of caring regardless of my feelings for them.  I like a certain rationality and directness and many women just aren't in that space.

And a lot of this flies in the face of what our society's expectations are for women.  We are supposed to nurture, build ties between families,  be naturally empathetic, etc.   I do have these qualities, and they are important to me,  but they aren't the main focus of what I am about. 
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Noophere and the Semantic Web

For those of you interested in the next big thing in the Internet world, I'd like to share with you a little graphic I found linking Web 3.0 (the Semantic Web) with the Noosphere. Everyone knows by now about Web 2.0 and social networking, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, 4square, etc.

Web 3.0 linking the data and the people together is upon us.  There are already meetups all over the country on groups working to evangelize the next generation of the Internet.

However, progress does not stop there.  There is a move to go beyond Web 3.0 and include a consciousness known as the noosphere into the web.  There are moves to add artificial intelligence on top of the Web 3.0 Semantic Web to automatically process the new linkages found by weaving the web together. 

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Breathing and Rooting

Went to see the neuropsychologist again.  He has a very interesting office. It's a combination of the normal psychologist office and an occupational therapist (OT) office.  I think Oriental culture must be "in" for psychologists as he has a small collection of Oriental art and artifacts.  There is an "executive" chair for me:  A big black comfortable chair with good back support and neck support.  Dr. Berman sits on a black exercise ball anchored to the floor.    Around the office are a couple of other exercise balls and weights.  There is a bed in the office.

We don't talk too much about the ups and downs of my life or my emotional state per se although Dr. Berman does ask me how I feel.  We do a number of exercises so it is more like OT.  He is very interested in my breathing from the diaphragm.  Today we tried to incorporate movements and exercises into the breathing.  Not too successful as it takes a bit for me to remember to keep my balance and breathe or to do the exercises where I am touching my knees and breathing correctly.  But it will come.
We tried the exercises where he flashes cards with parallel lines or an X.  I can't seem to hold out my arm  correctly.

We also have been working on balance and proper stance.  Feet shoulder width apart.  My posture is very lousy.  We also started working on walking and breathing... walking by leading your knee first.  He picked up on what the OT's noticed:  that my gait is a bit off.  I pronate... that is, my feet turn outwards.  I have known that since college when I was running.  My boyfriend at the time was an avid runner who was the son of doctors.  His parents sent him off to get orthotics and he knew enough to get me sneakers, Saucony, that corrected a bit for pronation.  I had the worst shin splints at times as I was running 30-60 minutes a day.  So, I knew when we started doing all the exercises in OT about balance and gait that I should see a podiatrist.  At any rate,  I told Dr Berman, I would be seeing a podiatrist shortly and he gave me the name of a podiatrist who also treats the Pennsylvania Ballet and many of the dance companies  in Philadelphia.  More on this fellow later.

I noticed that as I  started breathing, standing and walking differently that I began to feel the earth very firmly underneath my feet.    I  felt what the Chinese would call "rooted", connected physically to the ground.  I felt stronger and more secure.    Not quite a feeling of qi circulating in my body as we aren't moving breath or energy in my body but just a feeling of a very secure attachment to the ground.   I began to feel my limbs well attached to each other and a direct line of feeling to the ground.   It's quite interesting.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

My Brain's Gymnastics: Brain Fitness

“Think faster, focus better, remember more.”
I will be using Posit Science's program, Brain Fitness, after I finish the Interactive Metronome. Maxine Young, my audiologist, recommended that I do this before I come see her to work on hearing-- she has recommended that I do Fast Forward for my Central Auditory Processing Disorder.   Maxine says that she has tried Brain Fitness and that it has helped her.  I know that Ericksons Retirement Community has also been using it to improve cognitive function for its residents.

Brain Fitness will help improve auditory processing, overall brain processing speed, attention and memory.

The IMPACT study–a study of 487 healthy adults over the age of 65-- found that  trainees were more than twice as fast in processing information after they completed Posit Science’s Brain Fitness Program than were active controls. On a standardized assessment battery evaluating overall memory and other cognitive abilities (and on other standard measures of the trained subjects’ competence for remembering what they heard) the average trainee scored as well as a normal individual who was about 11 years younger.  The study also documented improvements in the trained individuals’ everyday lives through self reported questionnaire.

Posit Science Brain Fitness Program for One Person, PC Version  
Posit Science Brain Fitness Program for One Person, PC Version 
Posit Science Brain Fitness Program for One Person, Mac Version
Posit Science InSight Brain Fitness Program for One Person 
Posit Science InSight Brain Fitness Program for One Person
Posit Science DriveSharp Brain Fitness Exercises
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

More Hips and Balance

From Gray's AnatomyImage via WikipediaToday we are working on hips and balance.  I am doing pelvic tilt exercises to get more strength in my core.  Also, we are working on standing on one foot.  My left foot is weaker than my right.  Also did more stair stepping exercises. 

Did a little bit more on the Interactive Metronome.  Did the backward stepping exercises today and got the scores down  to 60.  Need to do better with the bursts and IAR.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Employment Difficulties and Aging With Disabilities

Affirmative actionImage by quinn.anya via FlickrOver at Aspitude!, there is a series of interviews on employment with autism and aging.  It seems like a number of women are running into similar problems as I have with burnout at midlife.  A lot of problems seem to be relating to sensory overload, inability to keep up with the pace, and the need for down time or retreat to a sensory friendly environment.    We have followed a very similar pattern of burnout and reintegration at midlife.    We have all worked in major institutions, corporate or educational, and have found that the very structure of such institutions poses severe burdens on our neurological systems.

 As my gentle readers know, I have been flogging away mightily at therapies with the goal of returning to the workforce.   At the end of my therapies, I will go back for another neuropsychiatric assessment to see if I still meet the criteria for "NonVerbal Learning Disorder" or whether my problems are "Sensory Integration Disorder" and "Executive Dysfunction" to which gifted and talented individuals are more susceptible.  How much of the hearing, vision, vestibular and executive dysfunction problems will be completely fixed, I don't know.  I am getting the sense that I will be able to do most normal things without compensation and some extraordinary things with some compensation.    According to the feedback from my optometrist and audiologist, being completely fixed in every way for every day is probably out of reach; however, I will be able to do many things with or without compensation. What the parameters are, I still don't know.

However, I do know what life is without therapy.  I remember my parents coming home and being completely whipped in the evening and weekends.  They were exhausted and spent a lot of time on the couch in front of the TV in the evening.  My mom had to take a nap after a day of working as a  bookkeeper before she could make dinner for us kids.   I don't know how much fatigue could have been mitigated with therapy or if that's the way it is when you get older with the type of disabilities that run in my family.

Global Neurotechnology Market Overview

Global neurotechnology market: $144.5 billion industry with 9% CAGR
  • Pharmaceuticals -

    • largest and fastest growing segment of the industry
    • 9.3% annual growth compared to 7% growth for pharmaceuticals overall.

  • Neurodevices

    • 18.6% annual growth in 2008)

  • Neurodiagnostics: 

    • 3.7% annual growth in 2008
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Prayer for Peace and Global OM

Graph from the Princeton Center of Noetic Studies that conducted a study of a global prayer for peace in an attempt to quantify and somehow prove that parapsychology is real.  Just thought it was amusing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Chat with Neuropsychologist

NeurofeedbackImage by mattsches via FlickrI went in to find out what to do next in cognitive functioning with a neuropsychologist at Quietmind Foundation.  Since it generally takes a while to Tee up therapists, I figured I had to interview him and make a plan.
Since I have told my story over and over and am rather bored with my saga yet I don't want to leave out any pertinent details, I have made a chart of symptoms, therapies, and net effects of therapies.  Dr. Berman took a look at my chart and thought it was interesting that I went and shot some basketball successfully after I had completed Physical Therapy and a certain amount of vison therapy.
His assessment was very different from other therapists.  I was really expecting a more pen and paper assessment like that of Columbia Presbyterian where I had been diagnosed with Non-Verbal Learning Disorder.    He held out two different cards:  a card with two parallel lines and a card with a big X.  Then he asked me to stand up and extend my right arm and hold it firm as he pressed on it.  He pushed down on my arm and I held it firmly in place.
Then he had me look at a card with parallel lines and then a card with a big X.  He pushed on my arm and my arm flopped down.
Then he had me follow him tapping on his knees alternately.  Then I held out my arm and he pushed down and my arm flopped down.
We did a series of exercises like this and the net effect was my arm flopped down when I was otherwise engaged. 


Dr. Berman says I am having problems with laterality, functions located in the right or left side of the brain. and Hemisphericity, differences in firing rates between the left and right sides of the brain.  Apparently, I am more of a sequential thinker than a parallel processor.  I'm not sure I understand all this right now.  One thing that is in the mix which may be somehow related is that sequential processing problems are a part of Auditory Processing Disorder
The next thing Dr Berman did was to evaluate my breathing.  I am a mouth-breather.   No... No... not that kind!  I am not a  dork who collects funny books, watches cartoons, plays Dungeons and Dragons, video games (except for Brain Fitness purposes),  stalks goth boys or gets beat up!  Absolutely Not.
But back to my mouth breathing.  Dr Berman wants me to start breathing through my nose and pooching out my belly as I inhale.  Apparently, my brain is not getting enough oxygen with mouth breathing.  Well, that is easier said than done.  I have a lot of sinus issues and am a candidate for nose surgery.  Me  breathing through my nose is like a normal person drinking a can of Coke with a cocktail straw.  It's rather frustrating.
However, the good doctor is right about it improving function.  I noticed that when I was practicing nose breathing, I could see a lot clearer and could get in a lot more depth perception.  Weird, hunh?
I can see where he is going.  Later on, the breathing will be integrated with neurofeedback and cardiac function (He works with a cardiologist).  It's kind of like working with the emWave, a handheld stress reliever  that uses colorful LED displays and audio feedback to help synchronize your breathing and heart rate.  
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Neat Picture of the Digital Global Village

Since I have been doing a lot of thinking about a Digital Global Village, I've been roaming the Internet and I found this rather neat picture.... the digital noosphere.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hips and Feet in Occupational Therapy

In Occupational Therapy, we have also been working on balance and the hips. I have been working on stairstepping up the steps and then down the steps slowly.   I have been doing Interactive Metronome (IM) at the same time every day.  It is necessary to have your balance in order to do Interactive Metronome well.  Especially for the toe tapping exercises in IM.  My score on one of my toe taps is not as good as the other, so we want to clean up the balance.

Also, I have been working on flexing my feet.
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Eye Tracking and Predators

Maybe, on some evolutionary level, I wasn't cut out to be a predator.  According to Diana Ackerman in The Natural History of the Senses, "Predators have  eyes set right on the front of their heads so they can use precise, binocular vision to track their prey,  whereas prey have eyes at the sides of their heads so they can be aware of predators sneaking up on them".  The point of the vision therapy has been to straighten out my focus.  I don't focus normally the way that the diagram to the left has me looking.

This also means I don't see things clearly in crowded visual fields.  Today, in occupational therapy,  we worked on looking for numbers in a field of numbers on a page.  I had to scan different portions of a page in order to look for my numbers.  I did well with that but it was tiring when I had to look in a more crowded field.

So, maybe I was meant to be a grass eater and not a meat eater.  I would have starved as a predator.

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Can ‘Neuro Lit Crit’ Save the Humanities? - Room for Debate Blog -

Septem artes liberales from "Hortus delic...Image via Wikipedia
“At a time when university literature departments are confronting painful budget cuts, a moribund job market and pointed scrutiny about the purpose and value of an education in the humanities, the cross-pollination of English and psychology is providing a revitalizing lift,” the article said.
Does this research — “neuro lit” is one of its nicknames — energize literature departments, and, more broadly, generate excitement for the humanities? Is it yet another passing fad in liberal arts education? If the answer is both, why does theory matter, even if we sometimes don’t understand what the scholars are saying?
Can ‘Neuro Lit Crit’ Save the Humanities? - Room for Debate Blog -
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