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my day and an article i read

Today was not particularly original. The week seemed to go really quickly, tomorrow being friday and all.

I'm close to dealing with my travel arrangements for the AHA conference next month. Procrastinating much? Well, it's not really entirely my fault. But mostly.

After working a little, I went shopping but didn't find anything to buy. Such a feeling of defeat. I need some pants. Feel the excitement of my evening.

I'd like to link to an article, "The Case of Anna H.", but it isn't online. This is because it is in the New Yorker, and they are rather stingy with online content.
Anyway, it's completely fascinating story about a professional pianist who suddenly stopped being able to read music. Over ten years, she loses the ability to recognize words, then representations, and eventually shapes. This is probably not new to those who already read the case study "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" since it's basically the same disorder.

Even though she stopped being able to read words and music, she continued to be able to learn and play new music by ear (and to create new arrangements in her head) and to write letters. She was also able to distinguish between words for living/non-living.

I guess I hadn't thought about how complicated "seeing" really is -- translating colors and shapes into meaning isn't necessarily hard-wired in the brain. (from the article:
... primitive people who have never been exposed to photographs or drawings may fail to recognize that these are representations of something else; they may see paintings as mere colored surfaces. A complex system for recognition of representations must be specially constructed by the brain ...

The whole story is heartbreaking and amazing. As her condition deteriorates, she is still able to teach music and live mostly normally by recognizing colors, sounds, textures, and memorizing the positions of things in her house and neighborhood.


I read about half of that article. I thought it was interesting when Sacks came over to her house for dinner, and she was completely fine until she left the room, and an object on the table was moved. When she came back, she couldn't find it, since she watched closely, memorizing where things were to keep track of objects she could no longer identify.
She obviously already had a well developed memory (playing complex piano pieces from memory) but I wonder if her memorization abilities still increased once the disorder started.

Is that in the rest of the article?

I hate the New Yorker for not putting things on line, which reminds me that I have that Jeffrey Eugenides Vogue article for you (since they're also Conde Nast bitches who don't put anything on line).
I think it was in the rest of the article. Even though her memory increased, she still had trouble as her condition worsened. He mentioned that her ability to play by ear and create mucical arrangements in her head did increase substantially.