No, the continued pain and frustration of my naughty back haven’t driven me mad. But while I’ve been mostly lying face down on my bed (interrupted by a delightful trip to the Netherlands made possible by the loveliness of Louis and Wendy and some remarkably high dosages of powerful drugs), I’ve been reading. When the drugs haven’t turned my brain to mush, that is.
And one of the most interesting things I’ve read was a book by David Rock called ‘Your Brain at Work‘. In it, he mentions a professor called Norman Doidge who focuses on neuroplasticity – the way in which the brain creates and strengthens new neurons and new neurological connections.
Now here’s the interesting bit – Professor Doidge (whose book ‘The Brain that Changes Itself‘ I’ve just ordered) reports studies that show changes in people’s auditory cortexes when they’ve been blindfolded – even for just a few minutes.
Yes – shut off your visual input, and your auditory cortex starts to change extremely quickly.
Stop seeing, and you’ll start hearing more – and I think it’s probably a fairly safe bet that those changes will make a difference to a learner’s ability to understand a new language. We already know that you need to go through a process of listening to a lot of your target language before you can decode it in real time – it seems a reasonable hypothesis that the more you focus on your listening, the faster that process will be.
So, when Louis publishes Lesson 07 of Course 01 of SaySomethinginDutch, I’m going to listen to it with a blindfold on (however many raised eyebrows I get wherever it is you buy blindfolds).
And I’d be extremely interested to hear what you think if you decide to do some SSi lessons with a blindfold on. It’s wildly unscientific at this stage, of course – we’ll need to get some good numbers of people doing intensive two days mini-courses with and without blindfolds before we even have grounds to think it would make enough of a difference to be genuinely valuable – but any individual input at this stage will help me decide if it’s something we should carry on playing around with, or put to one side for the time being…:-)
In other news, I’m waiting (with characteristic patience, ie not much) to see a muscular and skeletal unit who have the authority to arrange a scan for my back – but in the meantime, I’m looking forward to sharing some thoughts with you following the remarkably interesting visit Louis and I had at Regina Coeli.