Susan R. Barry is a professor of neurobiology in the Department of Biological Sciences at Mount Holyoke College. She speaks regularly to scientists, eye doctors, and educators on the topic of neuronal plasticity. She has been featured on NPR and in a New Yorker article by renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks entitled"Stereo Sue." She and her husband have two grown children and live in South Hadley, Massachusetts.
Barry, a neuroscientist at Mount Holyoke College, was born with her eyes crossed and literally couldn't see in all three dimensions. Barry underwent several surgeries as a child, but it wasn't until she was in college that she realized she wasn't seeing in 3-D. The medical profession has believed that the visual center of the brain can't rewire itself after a critical cutoff point in a child's development, but in her 40s, with the help of optometric vision therapy, Barry showed that previously neglected neurons could be nudged back into action. The author tells a poignant story of her gradual discovery of the shapes in flowers in a vase, snowflakes falling, even the folds in coats hanging on a peg. After Barry's story was written up in the New Yorker by Oliver Sacks, she heard from many others who had successfully learned to correct their vision as adults, challenging accepted wisdom about the plasticity of the brain. Recommended for all readers who cheer stories with a triumph over seemingly insuperable odds. Photos, illus. (June) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
"Fixing My Gaze provides a fascinating, informative, and
beautifully written account of [Barry's] acquisition of stereopsis
after vision therapy at the age of 48 years.... Barry's insights
about her own vision provide wonderful insights into what it means
to not have stereopsis, and the profound, life-changing effect of
--Optometry and Vision Science
"[An] exemplary and informative testimony to the probably lifelong plasticity of the brain."
"[A] fascinating account.... In addition to recounting her personal triumph, Barry clearly explains the visual and clinical science needed to understand the significance of this achievement.... [T]his engaging book will leave both readers knowledgeable in the field, as well as those just looking to understand something about the visual process, pondering what else there is left to see."
--The Journal of Clinical Investigation
"[A] powerful account.... [Barry's] journey to attain the type of vision that most take for granted is inspirational and instructive."
"[A] testament both to human physiology and spirit that permits someone to live with - and then change - a uniquely altered view of the world.... This book opens up the possibility that people can change their physical limitations, and that it is never too late to try."
"[Barry's] buoyant journey into stereovision is an eye-popping ride."
"[Barry] tells a poignant story of her gradual discovery of the shapes in flowers in a vase, snowflakes falling, even the folds in coats hanging on a peg.... Recommended for all readers who cheer stories with a triumph over seemingly insuperable odds."
"Enticing.... [Barry] combine[s] a vivid and poetic account of her recovery with a detailed description of her treatment and the underlying science."
"Essential reading for people interested in the brain."--Temple Grandin
"One axis of [Barry's] book is a graceful and grateful appreciation of a newly acquired ability to see the volume of space between objects and to see each object as occupying its own space - revelations that allowed her to live among and in the things of this world and gave her first movements of snow falling, trees branching, and a faucet arcing out of the sink.... The book's main contribution, however, is exposing the wrong-headed dogma that acuity and binocular vision can be restored only during a critical developmental period."
--New England Journal of Medicine
"Readers of this book will be enriched by the experiences that Sue Barry recounts on her marvelous journey.... Part memoir and part science, Fixing My Gaze is a fitting tribute to the determination of a patient and her optometrist in challenging conventional wisdom and dogma."--Journal of Behavioral Optometry