今年,换个想法吧!

标签: 想法 | 发表时间:2011-08-20 21:12 | 作者:lilylanka 兰诺
出处:http://www.yeeyan.org

原作者:
来源Don’t leave learning to the young Older brains can grow, too - NYTimescom
译者lilylanka


This Year, Change Your Mind

今年,换个想法吧!

By OLIVER SACKS

奥利弗.赛克斯

Published: December 31, 2010

发表于2011年12月31日

NEW Year’s resolutions often have to do with eating more healthfully, going to the gym more, giving up sweets, losing weight — all admirable goals aimed at improving one’s physical health. Most people, though, do not realize that they can strengthen their brains in a similar way.

新年决心经常是吃得更健康,多去健身馆,放弃甜点,减肥—所有这些令人羡慕的目标都指向提高一个人的身体健康。但是,很多人没有意识到他们可以用类似的方式强健自己的大脑。

  
While some areas of the brain are hard-wired from birth or early childhood, other areas — especially in the cerebral cortex, which is central to higher cognitive powers like language and thought, as well as sensory and motor functions — can be, to a remarkable extent, rewired as we grow older. In fact, the brain has an astonishing ability to rebound from damage — even from something as devastating as the loss of sight or hearing. As a physician who treats patients with neurological conditions, I see this happen all the time.

尽管大脑的某些区域从出生或幼年时期就已经永久定型了,但是其他区域,尤其是在小脑皮层的区域,可以随我们的年纪进行很大程度的重新设置,小脑皮层是语言和思维等高级认知能力以及感官和运动功能的中枢。事实上,大脑有着惊人的受损修复能力甚至一些致命损伤,例如失去视觉或听觉,都能得以恢复。作为一名治疗神经性疾病的医师,我经常目睹这些奇迹。

  
For example, one patient of mine who had been deafened by scarlet fever at the age of 9, was so adept at lip-reading that it was easy to forget she was deaf. Once, without thinking, I turned away from her as I was speaking. “I can no longer hear you,” she said sharply.

例如,我有一个病人在9岁时因猩红热导致耳聋,她的读唇术如此熟练,很容易让人忘了她失聪这件事。有一次,我想都没想,就在和她说话时转过身背对她,她生气地说,“我听不到你说话了。”

  
“You mean you can no longer see me,” I said.

“你的意思是你看不到我了。”我说。

  
“You may call it seeing,” she answered, “but I experience it as hearing.”

她答道,“你可以叫做看,但是我的体验是听。”

  
Lip-reading, seeing mouth movements, was immediately transformed for this patient into “hearing” the sounds of speech in her mind. Her brain was converting one mode of sensation into another.

通过观察嘴唇活动,读唇马上在这位病人的大脑里转化为“听”谈话的声音。她的大脑正将一种感官模式转化为另一种。

  
In a similar way, blind people often find ways of “seeing.” Some areas of the brain, if not stimulated, will atrophy and die. (“Use it or lose it,” neurologists often say.) But the visual areas of the brain, even in someone born blind, do not entirely disappear; instead, they are redeployed for other senses. We have all heard of blind people with unusually acute hearing, but other senses may be heightened, too.

同样,盲人也经常能找到“看”的方法。大脑的某些区域,如果不受刺激的话,将会衰退、死亡。(神经科专家经常说“不用则弃,“)。 但是即使在某些天生失明的人的大脑中,视觉区域不会完全消失;相反,它们被重新用于其他感官。我们都听说过盲人有着不同寻常的灵敏听觉,然而其他感官能力也会加强。

  
For example, Geerat Vermeij, a biologist at the University of California-Davis who has been blind since the age of 3, has identified many new species of mollusks based on tiny variations in the contours of their shells. He uses a sort of spatial or tactile giftedness that is beyond what any sighted person is likely to have.

例如,加州-戴维斯大学的生物学家格瑞特.维梅知(GeeratVermeij)自三岁起便失明,他根据软体动物外壳轮廓的细微差别已经鉴定出很多新物种。他使用的空间或触觉天赋超出了任何有正常视觉的人的能力。

  
The writer Ved Mehta, also blind since early childhood, navigates in large part by using “facial vision” — the ability to sense objects by the way they reflect sounds, or subtly shift the air currents that reach his face. Ben Underwood, a remarkable boy who lost his sight at 3 and died at 16 in 2009, developed an effective, dolphin-like strategy of emitting regular clicks with his mouth and reading the resulting echoes from nearby objects. He was so skilled at this that he could ride a bike and play sports and even video games.

作家韦德.莫塔也是幼年时期失明,他大部分时候是用“面部视觉“来认路,面部视觉是一种利用物体反射声音或者到达他脸庞的空气流的细微变化来感知物体的能力。本.安德伍德是一个了不起的男孩,他三岁失明,于200916岁去世,他发明了一种有效的海豚式技巧,通过在嘴巴里发出有规律的卡嗒声来获悉附近物体产生的回声。他技巧十分娴熟,可以骑自行车,参加体育运动,甚至玩电视游戏机。

  
People like Ben Underwood and Ved Mehta, who had some early visual experience but then lost their sight, seem to instantly convert the information they receive from touch or sound into a visual image — “seeing” the dots, for instance, as they read Braille with a finger. Researchers using functional brain imagery have confirmed that in such situations the blind person activates not only the parts of the cortex devoted to touch, but parts of the visual cortex as well.

像本.安德伍德和韦德.莫塔这些有着早年视觉体验后来又失明的人,似乎能很快将他们从触摸或听到的信息转化为视觉图像例如,在他们用手指阅读布莱叶文时,他们可以“看到”点。利用功能性大脑成像的研究者已经证实在这种情况下,盲人不仅激活了专用于触摸的皮层部分,也有一部分视觉皮层区。

  
One does not have to be blind or deaf to tap into the brain’s mysterious and extraordinary power to learn, adapt and grow. I have seen hundreds of patients with various deficits — strokes, Parkinson’s and even dementia — learn to do things in new ways, whether consciously or unconsciously, to work around those deficits.

人们不一定非得失明或失聪才能深入了解大脑在学习,适应和生长方面的神秘而独特的能力。我见过上百个有各种缺陷的病人(中风者,帕金森患者,痴呆者)用新方法来学习做事情,利用这些缺陷来工作,不管是有意识地还是无意识地。

  
That the brain is capable of such radical adaptation raises deep questions. To what extent are we shaped by, and to what degree do we shape, our own brains? And can the brain’s ability to change be harnessed to give us greater cognitive powers? The experiences of many people suggest that it can.

大脑具有如此强烈的适应能力让人们提出了一些深刻的问题。我们的大脑把我们塑造到何种程度?我们又能将我们的大脑塑造到何种程度?我们能控制大脑改变的能力来给予我们更强的认知能力吗?许多人的经验表明,这是可能的。

  
One patient I knew became totally paralyzed overnight from a spinal cord infection. At first she fell into deep despair, because she couldn’t enjoy even little pleasures, like the daily crossword she had loved.

我知道的一个病人因为脊髓感染,一夜之间全身瘫痪。起初,她陷入深深的绝望,因为她连最爱的每日填字游戏这种小娱乐都不能享受。

  
After a few weeks, though, she asked for the newspaper, so that at least she could look at the puzzle, get its configuration, run her eyes along the clues. When she did this, something extraordinary happened. As she looked at the clues, the answers seemed to write themselves in their spaces. Her visual memory strengthened over the next few weeks, until she found that she was able to hold the entire crossword and its clues in her mind after a single, intense inspection — and then solve it mentally. She had had no idea, she later told me, that such powers were available to her.

几周之后,她还是要了一份报纸,这样至少她可以看着字谜,得到它的结构,眼睛顺着提示走。当她这样做时,神奇的事情发生了。她只要一看提示,答案似乎就写在那些空格里一样。她的视觉记忆在接下来的几周内增强了,她发现自己只要盯着字谜看一遍,她脑海里就能出现整个填字游戏和提示,之后在脑海里解谜。她当时不知道,过后告诉了我她拥有这种能力。

  
This growth can even happen within a matter of days. Researchers at Harvard found, for example, that blindfolding sighted adults for as few as five days could produce a shift in the way their brains functioned: their subjects became markedly better at complex tactile tasks like learning Braille.

这种增长甚至可以在几天的时间内发生。哈佛研究者发现,例如,将视力正常的成年人蒙住眼睛,五天后他们便可转变大脑发挥功能的方式;他们在学习布莱叶文这种复杂的触摸任务中表现明显提高。

Neuroplasticity — the brain’s capacity to create new pathways — is a crucial part of recovery for anyone who loses a sense or a cognitive or motor ability. But it can also be part of everyday life for all of us. While it is often true that learning is easier in childhood, neuroscientists now know that the brain does not stop growing, even in our later years. Every time we practice an old skill or learn a new one, existing neural connections are strengthened and, over time, neurons create more connections to other neurons. Even new nerve cells can be generated.

神经塑性是大脑创建新路径的一种能力,它对于任何失去某种感官或认知或运动能力的人的复原至关重要。但是它也可以成为我们所有人日常生活的一部分。尽管儿童时期学习是相对容易一些,但神经科学家现在知道大脑不会停止生长,即使在晚年。我们每练习一种旧的技巧或学习一种新的,现有的神经连接都得到增强,一段时间之后,神经元创建出与其他神经元更多的连接。就连新的神经细胞也能产生。

  
I have had many reports from ordinary people who take up a new sport or a musical instrument in their 50s or 60s, and not only become quite proficient, but derive great joy from doing so. Eliza Bussey, a journalist in her mid-50s who now studies harp at the Peabody conservatory in Baltimore, could not read a note of music a few years ago. In a letter to me, she wrote about what it was like learning to play Handel’s “Passacaille”: “I have felt, for example, my brain and fingers trying to connect, to form new synapses. ... I know that my brain has dramatically changed.” Ms. Bussey is no doubt right: her brain has changed.

我写过很多关于普通人在五六十岁开始学一种新运动或新乐器的报告,他们不仅能学的十分精通,还可从中获取极大乐趣。艾丽兹.布赛是一名五十多岁的记者,她现在于巴尔的摩市的皮博特音乐学院学习竖琴,几年前她连一个音符都看不懂。在她写给我的一封信中,她告诉我学习弹奏韩德尔的“帕萨卡耶”是一种什么样的感觉,“我能感受到,例如,我的大脑和手指试图连接起来,形成新的神经键我知道我的大脑发生了剧烈的改变。”布赛女士无疑是正确的:她的大脑已经改变了。

  
Music is an especially powerful shaping force, for listening to and especially playing it engages many different areas of the brain, all of which must work in tandem: from reading musical notation and coordinating fine muscle movements in the hands, to evaluating and expressing rhythm and pitch, to associating music with memories and emotion.

音乐是一种极强的塑造力,因为听音乐,尤其是弹奏音乐需要大脑很多不同区域的参与,所有这些区域都必须同时工作:从读乐谱、协调好手上的肌肉活动,到衡量、表达节奏与音高,然后把音乐和记忆、情感联系在一起。

  
Whether it is by learning a new language, traveling to a new place, developing a passion for beekeeping or simply thinking about an old problem in a new way, all of us can find ways to stimulate our brains to grow, in the coming year and those to follow. Just as physical activity is essential to maintaining a healthy body, challenging one’s brain, keeping it active, engaged, flexible and playful, is not only fun. It is essential to cognitive fitness.

不管是在来年学习一种新的语言,到一个新的地方旅行,养成养蜂的爱好或者仅仅是以一种新的方式来思考一个老问题,所有照做的人们都能找到刺激大脑生长的方式。正如身体活动对保持健康体魄很重要一样,挑战人们的大脑,使它保持活跃、参与、灵活和有趣,不仅是一种乐趣。它对认知健康同样重要。

  
Oliver Sacks is the author of “The Mind’s Eye.”

奥利弗.赛客斯是《思想的眼睛》的作家。

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