Emily Alspector's blog

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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Aside from the beautiful and charismatic style which makes the procession through The Diving Bell and the Butterfly absolutely enthralling, complete appreciation of this book requires an acknowledgement of the implausible efforts of its creator. It is rare that a book can be inspiring based not only on the content of the writing but also on the process of its creation. Jean-Dominique Bauby does not explicitly give details about his condition, nor about how he went about writing this book. This seems to be the main theme of the book: it is not why, but how. He does not want the reader to know much about his accident or the painstaking method of communication he has been forced to resort to, but

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Phantom Limbs and Theories of Self

While accounts of both phantom limb awareness and pain have been reported for over 500 years (1), only in recent decades have patients reporting such sensations of missing limbs not been classified as pathological. In fact, recent studies report 60-80% incidence rate of PLP, whereas in the middle of the 20th century, reported PLP cases were as low as 4% (3). Rather, modernized technologies and advancements in the field of neuroscience have revealed evidence indicating that the mechanisms involved in such sensations are actually responsive and adaptive (2), perhaps accounting for the increased rate

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Risk-Taking and the I-Function

At first glance, engaging in an activity that puts ones life at risk may seem evolutionarily unadaptive. However, much research and discussion has been initiated with just the opposite idea in mind. Risk-taking tendencies apparently lie deep within our evolutionary framework; our hunger-gatherer ancestors had no choice but to put their lives in danger in pursuit of food, shelter, or protection from danger. As Eric Perlman, a filmmaker specializing in extreme sports, said, “We are designed to experiment or die” (Greenfield, 1999)(1). Moreover, current generations of American descent can ascribe their

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The Friendly Gene

This past summer, I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship, which funded an NGO internship in Oaxaca, Mexico for four weeks. I worked at a school that taught children of all ages (infants to teenagers) who have been diagnosed with Down syndrome. Because my Spanish was not exactly comprehensible at first, I had a hard time communicating with the students. However, one of the students sensed my timidity with the language and would occasionally strike up a conversation with me, speaking with a tone of support and patience. Every other day, we had an hour designated to a “dance party,” which was sometimes their only form of exercise. I, again, was shy at

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