This fascinating story from NPR (National Public Radio) tells the story of Howard Engel, a Canadian mystery novelist who woke up one morning and discovered that he could no longer read. His brain damaged by a stroke, Engel couldn’t make sense of written words, which looked to him like random squiggles on a page.
Through trial and error, and a lot of effort, Engel taught himself to read and write again by tracing the shape of letters onto the backs of his teeth with his tongue:
Sacks describes Engel’s struggles in a forthcoming book, The Mind’s Eye, to be published later this year. The surprise here is that brains are more plastic than one would suppose; even if one part of a brain is compromised by a stroke, a person can sometimes improvise and get another still healthy part of the brain to substitute and help out.