(Photo Credit: Ron Suskind)
Tune in to RadioLab Tuesday, November 17 on WSKG Radio at 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Two stories of humans DIY-ing answers to seemingly unsolvable problems. First, a homemade brain-stimulator that may unlock hidden potential. In the last couple years, tDCS has been all over the news. Researchers claim that juicing the brain with just 2 milliamps (think 9-volt battery) can help with everything from learning languages, to quitting smoking, to overcoming depression. Sally Adee, an editor at New Scientist, was at a conference for DARPA – The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – when she heard about a way to speed up learning with something called trans-cranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). A couple years later, Sally found herself wielding an M4 assault rifle, picking off enemy combatants with a battery wired to her temple. Of course, it was a simulation, but Sally’s sniper skills made producer Soren Wheeler wonder what we should think of the world of brain stimulation.
Then, the story of a family that finds an unlikely way to access their silent son’s world. Ron and Cornelia Suskind had two healthy young sons, promising careers, and a brand new home when their youngest son Owen started to disappear. 3 months later a specialist sat Ron and Cornelia down and said the word that changed everything for them: Autism. We set off to figure out what their story can tell us about Autism, a disorder with a wide spectrum of symptoms and severity. Along the way, we speak to specialists, therapists, and advocates including Simon Baron-Cohen, Barry and Raun Kaufmann, Dave Royko, Geraldine Dawson, Temple Grandin, and Gil Tippy.