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Paul Bach-y-Rita and Neuroplasticity


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Nice find(s) Odisa! I'll have to glean them over this weekend when I have more time. 

 

You guys should both check out the book "The Brain That Changes Itself" - it has a ton of information about not only the 'plastic' nature of our brain and nervous system, but how it is actually "polysensory" and the idea that any region controls a certain process in our body is entirely flawed. For instance, Mrigunka Sur, a neuroscientist, completed a study where he surgically attached the optic nerves of a ferret to its auditory cortex and it learned how to still see and hear the same as a typical ferret, only with slightly less visual acuity (akin to someone who wears glasses). There were other studies where brain regions were removed and placed in backwards and everything, with time, functioned normally. Also, some fascinating information on this Russian biophysicist, psychopharmacologist, inventor, etc, Bach-y-Rita; he developed some technology for this woman who had symptoms similar to us HPPDer's - she had vestibular issues (which is something I'm working on at z-health), thus making her perceive herself as 'falling' 24/7. Her vestibular canals were 98% dysfunctional. Well, essentially he had her wear this helmet which took away her problems. Surprisingly, when she took it off, new neural pathways were created and with various vestibular exercises she maintained the benefits though while still having a near-completely dysfunctional vestibular system. He then did similar things for blind people, giving them sight despite their visual cortex being almost non-existant. He also is developing technologies to give people (such as Spec Ops forces) 'supersenses' such as infrared vision. Point being, even if neuro/synaptop/myelinogenesis isn't working, you can use a different region of your brain to achieve the same thing as your dysfunctional region (for us, perhaps our occipital lobe, tempo-parietal junction, etc). Oh, this was all found in the first chapter, haha. 

 

But yeah, I'm gonna take a look into these papers this weekend! 

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Nice find(s) Odisa! I'll have to glean them over this weekend when I have more time. 

 

You guys should both check out the book "The Brain That Changes Itself" - it has a ton of information about not only the 'plastic' nature of our brain and nervous system, but how it is actually "polysensory" and the idea that any region controls a certain process in our body is entirely flawed.

I wouldn't say that. The fact that the brain is plastic does not change the fact that in normal brains it is quite fruitful to think of different functions being somewhat localized. This is the reason that one can in fact often predict in which part of the brain an injury has struck from the outward manifestations of symptoms. It is not as simple as people perhaps once believed, but it is still far from being wrong :)

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@BPC, although I don't doubt that would be a highly interesting read, however ultimately I don't see how that could be easily applicable to our condition. I currently have "The Synaptic Self" and "The Principles of Neural Science" that I still need to read too! Also, I'd think that if such things as you describe were possible, one would have to have a pretty good level of cognition. I mean if I had the issues of falling sensation, I doubt I could keep focused enough to retrain with any type of therapy currently; perhaps this is not the case in mild cases of HPPD who could retrain more easily, but then again I'd think perhaps other therapies would be more appropriate in that case. Also; did he describe in detail how to perform the therapies?

 

 

Point being, even if neuro/synaptop/myelinogenesis isn't working, you can use a different region of your brain to achieve the same thing as your dysfunctional region (for us, perhaps our occipital lobe, tempo-parietal junction, etc).

This is presuming not all/other regions are suffering from deficits in neuro/synapto/myelinogenesis.

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I wouldn't say that. The fact that the brain is plastic does not change the fact that in normal brains it is quite fruitful to think of different functions being somewhat localized. This is the reason that one can in fact often predict in which part of the brain an injury has struck from the outward manifestations of symptoms. It is not as simple as people perhaps once believed, but it is still far from being wrong :)

Yes, I agree with you, yet that is largely the point of bach-y-rita's work - if one has a severely damaged area of the brain that controls speech and they literally can't speak at all, it doesn't matter because you can train a different region of the brain to pick up that slack and fulfill the other regions roles. Hence how he got people who couldn't see to see; the second chapter begins with a woman who has strong points of cognition and then such severe deficits in other areas that she is thought to be mentally ill, and it was do to certain regions in her brain being severely under developed since birth. All it took was training other regions and neural pathways and her more thoroughly developed brain regions fulfilled the role of the under developed ones. That's why Bach-y-rita claims every region of the brain is 'polysensory' - hence why you can take out a region of the brain in an animal and then train, say, it's auditory cortex, and it can see again despite not having a full 'visual cortex'.

 

 

 Also, I'd think that if such things as you describe were possible, one would have to have a pretty good level of cognition. I mean if I had the issues of falling sensation, I doubt I could keep focused enough to retrain with any type of therapy currently; perhaps this is not the case in mild cases of HPPD who could retrain more easily, but then again I'd think perhaps other therapies would be more appropriate in that case. Also; did he describe in detail how to perform the therapies?

Well, that's the point of most of the book - even if you have an extremely dampened state of cognition you can retrain it, even if you are 'mentally ill', clinically insane, paralyzed, etc. It may be extremely difficult, but no less possible. For instance that woman lost her job and essentially stayed in bed all day because she could no longer walk - due to her vestibular issues if there were even lines/stripes on a carpet/rug her brain would perceive that as motion in a different direction and everything seemed as though it was moving, even if she wasn't moving. Bach-y-rita's helmet not only took this sensation away, it lasted afterwards and she continued to do proprioception exercises and maintain the new neural pathways despite the fact that her vestibular system was still 98% inactive; meaning, other regions of her brain picked up its slack.

 

I have only read the preface/intro, chapter 1, and started looking through all the citations, so I'm not sure if they describe things you can do at home, or go through all these pioneering researchers case studies. The second chapter sounds like it'd have some meaning to HPPD, too - speaking about a woman who is intelligent yet "retarded" at the same time and can't understand body language/facial cues, etc. and believes everything has some 'meaning' behind it; I've actually had this happen to me in the midst of a bad day of HPPD - I just couldn't understand facial cues, my emotional intelligence was dampened, and I kept wondering what people were thinking... very much like if I were tripping on LSD, lol. Nonetheless, I think this is why I'm having success with z-health.

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this actually gives an awesome visual for bach-y-rita's work (he is not the only scientist spoken about in the book, just the chapter that I read); "We don't see with our eyes, for example, or hear with our ears." It gets pretty interesting when they show how you can send visual information through the tongue to the visual cortices to produce vision through the sense of touch, all without the need for the eyes. 
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this actually gives an awesome visual for bach-y-rita's work (he is not the only scientist spoken about in the book, just the chapter that I read); "We don't see with our eyes, for example, or hear with our ears." It gets pretty interesting when they show how you can send visual information through the tongue to the visual cortices to produce vision through the sense of touch, all without the need for the eyes. 

Sorry BPC, but I figured this would best suit a new topic, so I moved the posts.

Thanks for the vid; pretty interesting stuff.. Though then again it would be limited to seeing black and white. Moreover, I wonder whether the people actually "see" an image in their mind when navigating through space.

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No problem - I agree; I was actually thinking of starting a different thread but didn't know if it would be viewed, haha.

 

Yeah, I'm not quite sure; I'm hoping there is more information on it in the coming chapters - I just know I have to take a hiatus from reading it to finish Hans Selye's The Stress of Life and Ray Peat's Mind and Tissue for some school projects. I'm going to compile all the citations in The Brain That Changes Itself, though, and look through them and post them (here? in my 'journal thread?). So many of them are indirectly related to HPPD with how people can have sensory disorders/diseases and how to cause positive, lasting changes to, if not fix them, 'get around' them. 

 

After I get back from school (fingers crossed that the things I've been doing in the past few days prevent a random breakdown and panic attack, lol) I'll post some more relevant videos to the one above. I know there is a 30(ish) minute one of Bach-y-rita's experience with the woman with the vestibular issues - I believe that'd be the most relevant to us HPPDer's because vestibular issues can cause very similar, perhaps the same kind of symptoms that some of us have (weird environmental 'changes', perception of movement, vertigo, etc); I know that a few of the drills I've been having the most success with are all vestibular system related; for instance, drills to induce the vestibulo-ocular reflex.

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  • 1 month later...

@BPC: First of all, thanks for introducing me to Bach-y-rita's work: my vestibular function has taken a hit with my recent sudden sensorineural hearing loss, and his work is quite reassuring in that if not now, that in the future I have a good chance of restoring it to its previous level of functioning.

 

Anyhow, just popped in to link something I found, re:plasticity: http://www.reddit.com/r/Nootropics/comments/255rbp/while_were_in_to_peptides_nep140/

 

Though you might find it interesting ;)

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