Neurobiologist Susan R. Barry argues that perception is a deeply personal act. She tells the stories of Liam McCoy, practically blind from birth, and Zohra Damji, born deaf, in the decade following surgeries that restored their senses. As Liam and Zohra learned entirely new ways of being, Barry discovered an entirely new model of the nature of perception.
It was a revelation to read, in Coming to Our Senses, about people who retrieved part or all of their vision or hearing late in life, and who not only didn’t like it, but who actually suffered and even died as a result ... Yes, Barry writes, with a massive reorganization of brain circuitry. Her book focuses on two impressive 20-somethings who managed that feat. It’s hard to tell how typical they are — they’re portrayed here as preternaturally intelligent and focused, and they recovered their senses not as adults but as adolescents, when their brains were more amenable to reshaping. And Barry goes a little overboard in her admiration for their stamina, and in how their experience contrasts with her own discovery of stereo vision. Still, it’s inspiring to get to know these young people here.
Neurobiologist Barry explores sight, hearing, and perception in this triumphant survey of people who gained a sense they were born without ... Barry skillfully balances scientific explanations with empathetic stories of how senses shape the human experience ... This powerful tale is as thoughtful as it is informative.
Through stories of two amazing individuals, a neurobiologist explains how we see and hear ... Barry delivers gripping accounts of two [children who learned to recover their senses]. The first, Liam McCoy, lived in a 'cocoon of visual blur.' ... The second, Zohra Damji, was profoundly deaf ... Both stories are inspiring and well rendered by the author. Even science-savvy readers will find surprises in this insightful exploration of how two humans learned a new sense.