The Brain That Changes Itself Film Adaptation By Thomas Hewitt

Many Neurologists and scientists studying the human brain claim that the brain cannot make drastic changes to itself after the age of 18. Neuroscientist Norman Doidge sets out to help victims of seemingly irreversible brain damage and prove that the brain is still a malleable tool that can adapt and change itself when prompted. From a woman who is in a perpetual state of falling, to a man who cannot make connections, Norman Doidge proves that the the human brain still retains its plasticity long after we become adults.

The picture above is of Roger Behm, a blind man who has been given an incredible piece of technology that allows him to see. The equipment consists of a camera, computer, and a special device that draws what the camera is seeing onto his tongue. His brain interprets these sensory inputs in a very unique way, changing seemingly random tactile pulses into a way to see the world. His brain has rewritten its sensory inputs, proving the theory of neuroplasiticity is very much real. The book talks about his device in depth and how it works, but the film really brings this incredible machine to life, showing what it looks like and where the parts go on his body. The film does not go into as deep of an explanation of how the device works, but shows it in action. It allows a completely blind man to walk on a path made of tape, recognize and touch specific shapes on a wall, and even throw a ball into a trash can. The film really shows how incredible the human brain really is, being able to rewire itself to turn touch into vision.

The photo above shows Cheryl, standing up straight with perfect posture and balance. Cheryl had the part of her brain that interprets balance almost completely destroyed by a medication she had been taking. "There have been times when I literally lose the sense of the feeling of the floor ... and an imaginary trapdoor opens up and swallows me." (Doidge 8) Cheryl lives in a world where she feels like she is perpetually falling, and because of that she wobbles all the time. These "wobblers" have a condition that is permanent, or so we thought. The device she is using in the picture above uses a gyroscopic helmet and a chip that creates tactile pulses on her tongue to amazingly restore her balance completely. After a few sessions, it started to have residual effects and eventually Cheryl was able to stand, walk, and even ride a bike with no problems at all. The book talks about Cheryl's condition, but you do not really see the true severity of it until you watch the film. The film shows just how bad her problem is, making the feats that were accomplished seem much greater.

One of the things the film does that really complements the content that the book provides is the use of animations to illustrate what is going on inside of the brain. The brain is a very complex organism, and it is hard to picture where all of the lobes are and how they are connected to one another. The animations really help visualize the concepts Norman Doidge highlighted in his book, how the brain can literally rewire itself when prompted to do so. The illustrations are also used to show what changes look like in the brain, highlighting certain areas or lobes and showing the audience what they actually look like.

Another element that complements the content in the film are the interviews. They allow the audience to see not only the faces of the people in the film, but it allows the subjects to talk to the audience in a more meaningful manner. The interviews allow the characters to explain to the audience what is happening in a more direct way. Unlike voice-overs, what they are saying is the most important thing, making the concepts they are talking about seem more important. There is also nothing to distract the audience from what they're saying, making it more likely for the content to be retained by the audience.

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