From Publishers Weekly
Nico is a remarkable eight-year-old boy who possesses a slight limp, an affinity for his laptop computer and a "well-kept secret inside his skull." At the age of three, doctors treated Nico's intractable epilepsy by excising the entire right hemisphere of his brain, a procedure conducted only on fairly young children (because of the greater plasticity of their brains) who experience severe seizures. In a brief academic analysis of the brain's compensatory capacity, Battro, a cognitive psychologist who has worked with Nico, compares the boy's rapid progression to developmental theories offered by Jean Piaget and other prominent psychologists. Supporting his own hypothesis that a half brain is a new brain, Battro notes that Nico's musical abilities, motor capabilities (when using a mouse and a keyboard) and attention span have all developed normally despite the fact that many researchers have determined that these functions are mediated by the right hemisphere. Nico's intact left hemisphere, Battro postulates, has acquired these skills and is a whole brain in itself. The only major deficit that Nico has yet to overcome concerns his poor drawing and handwriting skills, a handicap that Battro sought to conquer by giving him an "information prosthesis"--a computer. Now Nico can draw and type on the computer better than anyone in his class, and he has recently discovered the virtues of e-mail and computer programming. Although this technical and theoretical examination will not appeal to the lay reader, Battro's computer-based approach to rehabilitation should interest both clinicians and biopsychologists.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Nico, now 8, came to physician and psychologist Battro's attention when he was 5, some two years after the right half of his brain was removed to deal with severe epilepsy. Battro, who calls the field he pioneers neuroeducation
, found that working with Nico, who since developed normally and became a capable student in school, spurred him to rethink what he knew about the brain. He describes his close relationship with Nico, whom he calls intelligent and affectionate. Since they are vital to what he does, Battro points out the value of computers, especially laptops, in expanding especially a child's potential for living a productive life, and he brings up many points crucial to the study of education and human nature. Human brains and machine brains, he cautions, are dissimilar, but the latter can be harnessed to the former to promote what amounts to the sculpting of a "new" brain. At times tough reading, Battro's brief book speaks vitally to those involved with children like Nico and to anyone interested in cognitive development. William BeattyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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