Michael Merzenich – Exploring the re-wiring of the brain part2

The first example I wanna talk about relates to children with learning impairments and we now have a large body of literature that demonstrates that the fundamental problem that occures in a majority of children that have early language impairments – and have a good struggle to learn to read – is that the language processor is created in a defective form. And the reason that it arises in a defective form is because early on in the babies brains life, the machine process is noisy. Its that simple. Its a simple noise problem.

A lot of things contribute to that. There are numerous inherent faults that could make the machine process noisier. The noise problem could also occure on the basis that information provided in the world of the ears – one that was called mental retardation. We knew that they where gonna struggle to learn to develop normal language abilities. And we knew that they where gonna struggle to learn to read. Most of them would be intellectual and academic failures. Thats disappeared. It no longer applies. That inherited weakness, that inherited condition has evaporated. We don’t have that anymore. Where did it go?

It was understood by a dutch sergeant about 45 years ago that if you simply fix the problem early enough, when the brain is still in this initial plastic periode so it can setup this machinery adequately in this initial set up time (in a critical periode) non of that happens. And what do you do to correct it? You basically opening up the tubes that drain through it from the middle ears.

The child’s native language in such a case is not english, its not japanese, its waffel english, its degraded japanese, its crap. And the brains specializes for it. It creates a representation of language crap. And now the child is stuck with it. And the crap doesn’t just happen in the ear, it can also happen in the brain.

The brain itself can be noisy, its commonly noisy. There are many inheritent false that can make a noise here. And the native language for a child with such a brain is degraded. Its not english, its noisy english. And that results in defective representation of sounds or words. Not normal, a different strategy, a machine which has a different time and space concepts. And you look into the brain of such a child and record those time constance, where about an 11 times longer in duration on the average than a normal child. Space constance where about three times greater. Such a child will have memory and cognitive deficits in this domine. Of course they will. Because as the reciever of language, receiving it and representing it in an information thats representing crap.

And they gonna have poor reading skills, because reading is dependent upon the translation of word sounds into this orthographic or visual representational form. If you don’t have a brain representation of word-sounds the translation makes no sense. And you gonna have cross bending abnormal neurology and all this children increasingly in evaluation after evaluation and there are operations in reading and language we document abnormal neurology. The point is that you can train the brain out of this. And the way to think about it is you can actually redefine the processing capacity of the machinery by changing it. Changing it in detail… It takes about 30 hours on the average. And we accomplished that in about 430.000 kids today.

And actually when you look at the impacts they are substantial. So here we look at the normal distribution. What we are most interested in is the kids on the left side of the distribution. This is from about 3000 children – and you can see that most of the kids on the left side of the distribution moving into the middle of the right. This is like an IQ test for language. The impact in the distribution if you trained every child in the US would be to shift the whole distribution to the right. This is a substantially impact. Think about a classroom of children or children in language arts. Think about children on the slow side of the class. We have the potential to move most of those children to the middle or right side.

In addition to add to language training it also fixes memory and cognition, speech fluency and speech production and an importent language depended skill is enabled by this training – namely reading. And to a large extend it fixes the brain. So you look down in the brain of a child in a variety of task as scientist have at Standfort, MIT and UCISA, UCLA and a number of other institutions. And children operating in variouse language behaviours or reading behaviours you see for the most extend for most children their neuronal responses – complexly abnormal before you start – are normalised by the training.

And you can also take the same approach to address problems in aging. Where again the machinery is deteriorating now the compliment machinery is going south, noise is increasing in the brain and learning modulation and control is deteriorating. And you can actually look down on such a brain and withness a change in the time constance and space constance with which the brain is representing language again.

Just as the brain came out of chaos at the beginning it goes back in the chaos in the end. And this results in declines of memory, in cognition and in posture mobility and agility. It turns out you can train the brain of such an individual for about 30 hours. And what you see is substantial improvements of their immediate memory, their ability to remember things after a delay, the ability to control their attention, their language and visual/spacial ability.

The Neuropsychological index of trained individuals in that population is about two standard deviations. That means if you sit at the left side of the distribution, I am looking at your neuropsychological abilities, the average person is moved to the middle or the right side of the distribution. It means most people who are at risk of senility more or less immediately are now in a protective possition.



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