People who are born with Mental Retardation (MR) often have many gifts to give. I have an aunt with MR who is one of the most remarkable people at remembering names and events. As I was recently delving into our family history for a genogram assignment, my aunt was one of our only family members who could quickly recall that names of my cousin’s second husband’s children. Despite the intellectual capabilities of the other family members in the room, we fell short of remembering names while my aunt who was diagnosed with MR at the age of 12 months did not. Moreover, other individuals who have MR might foster even greater gifts than the ability to recall names.
For example, Barbara Arrowsmith Young was born with deficits in speech, spatial reasoning, mental mapping, kinesthetic perception, narrow vision and dyslexia (Doidge, 2007). Moreover, Barbara could memorize math problems; however, she was unable to understand the mathematical concepts. Furthermore, Barbara struggled with emotional development and could only understand happenings after they had already occurred. Despite Barbara’s areas of deficit, she held superior functioning in her visual and auditory memory. Barbara went on to become a successful rehabilitation center director after building upon the work of Aleksandr Luria, Lyova Zazetsky and Mark Rosenzweig. Post integration of the aforementioned researchers, Barbara began to exercise her weakened functions instead of practicing compensating skills in areas where she was inferior. This allowed Barbara to gain greater capacity in areas in which she could not previously function in (Doidge, 2007).
Upon researching animals’ brains to understand the potential for brain plasticity, researchers found that animals who were placed in a complex environment and who went through training showed less enzyme cholinesterase (ChE) activity per unit of weight of tissues in their cerebral cortex. However the rest of the subjects’ brains illustrated more ChE activity per unit of weight (Krech, Rosenzweig, & Bennet, 1960). Due to the perplexity of the cerebral cortex accumulating less weight of ChE activity, researchers replicated the studies in an effort to understand the slightly lower weight of the cerebral cortex ChE of subjects who were in a stimulating environment as opposed to subjects who were not in enriched environments. Findings demonstrate that stimulating environments will indeed increase ChE activity in the brain overall if the total ChE is measured (Rosenzweig, Krech, Bennet, & Diamond, 1962). Therefore, the previous findings allow us draw conclusions that the brain is plastic and is capable of change when the subject is placed in an enriched environment.
Even though the brain is considered to be plastic and is capable of growth and change, there are certain limitations. For example, although older subjects are capable of brain plasticity, the cerebral effects stimulating environments develop more quickly in younger animals (Rosenzweig,...