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Issue 5 :: November 2009

Editor's Note

I've been listening to quite a bit of Ginger Campbell's Brain Science Podcast this past month. In several episodes, she explores neuroplasticity: the idea that "neurons that fire together wire together." Whereas Descartes posited that the brain is a fixed set of processes—a machine—researchers like Norman Doidge are now finding that the brain can change its structure and its function in monumental ways, essentially rewiring itself. Doidge explains phantom limb pain using this set of principles. The processing center for the arm is right next to that of the face. When the arm is amputated and no longer gives signals to the brain, the network of neurons for the face can encroach on the unutilized arm area in the brain. Movements of the face, then, can begin to feel like they are in fact happening in the missing arm. There are countless stories of the brain's creative and ever-reaching ability to shift and morph its wiring.

This makes me think of our artists at textsound: they're working at the level of machine, and yet their work is plastic—both in the neuroplastic sense and in the sense of les arts plastiques. Issue 5's artists are flexible and innovative. We're lucky to have phonemes and bytes from Heike Fiedler, Ken Cormier, Chad Lietz, Anne Tardos, Angela Carr & Michèle Anderson, Stephanie Sherriff, Karl Petrunak, Home Items, Laura Goldstein, Tom Orange, and m loncar & Area C. Fiedler and Tardos demonstrate minds with overlapping language maps while Lietz moves between languages and the-mouth-as-music. Petrunak places words together like objects—in effect, remapping English. These are just a few examples from the rich set of repetitions, compositions, and decompositions in this month's issue of textsound. All of these folks are training your brain elastic. So listen up: these are brain pushups.

Laura Wetherington