Dr. Susan Hummel knows repetitive handwork helps the brain. This lesson begins in graduate school, when she survives a collision. Doctors aren’t sure when she’ll recover. That was in 1993. Confused, determined, Susan rejoins a world she inhabits differently than before. Sensations of color, sound, space, and time feel altered. She lives with hyperacusis, imbalance, and photophobia. Relief comes outdoors where, while studying forests, she notices some symptoms ease. Susan starts paying close attention to advances in brain science, where a revolution is underway. Neuroplasticity offers reason for optimism. Supported by careful routines and loving relationships, a new life blooms. But the good times don’t last, and her symptoms worsen. Diagnostic tools are available in 2012 that were lacking two decades prior. Small holes are found inside the bony labyrinth of Susan’s skull. They are surgically patched, which moderates some symptoms. This second convalescence reinforces Susan’s earlier observations that recovery is boosted by engaging her hands and feet in absorbing activities, like needlework, writing, and walking. Now, owing to the neuroscientific theory of embodied cognition, she understands why. The brain gets the lion’s share of research attention, yet thinking involves more than neural processes within the head. Humans are whole-body learners.
Susan earned degrees from Georgetown University (B.A. 1984); University of Oregon (M.A. 1988); and Oregon State University (Ph.D. 1997). A Jesuit education prompted her public service career in forest science, from which she is now retired. Her interests in transdisciplinary research continue as she focuses on neural craft. Patchwork Labyrinth® is her first book of creative non-fiction.
For a list of Susan’s publications, click here. Connect with her here: contact page