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Hollow Vision

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Human brain does wonderful things. But when it fails, it can do funny things that make for fascinating clinical conditions. In The Mind's Eye, Oliver Sacks explains how we see what we see, and what happens when things get lost between the transmission from eyes to brain, making the book a must read for communication students and HR enthusiasts. Sacks, a professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University, narrates many interesting, and disturbing, cases. Take for instance, the well-known New York pianist Lilian who finds one morning that she cannot read her music anymore. She has trouble in recognising objects of daily use and slowly finds it difficult to find her way through the streets of New York. She continues to play music though; much of it through her memory.

Similarly, there are other cases where the person fails to recognise words or read. A Canadian writer cannot recognise the Roman alphabets. Though he continued to write, he could not read what he wrote! Then there are more complicated cases, which Sacks explains with clarity and precision. This book is a kind of continuation of Sacks' best-selling The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, which explains visual agnosia or the inability to recognise things despite having perfect vision. The book is not just about visual neurological disorders, but their impact on the victims and their families, too.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 23-01-2012)