Intro: animism (spirits make things move) to explain human behavior. Believe there’s something intangible that
animates us b/c we’re aware of existence. Role of mind? Control/part of nervous system? Physical/hiding spirit?
Mind-body question. Dualism: mind/body separate, body=ordinary matter, mind not. Monism: everything is
matter/energy, mind is produced by nervous system. Once we understand workings of human body, esp nervous
system, problem will be solved, we’ll be able to explain how we perceive/think/remember/act/self-awareness.
Lab only finds manifestations of physical world: matter and energy.
Understanding Human Consciousness: Physiological Approach: Consciousness: humans aware of thoughts/
perceptions/memories/feelings. Can be altered by changes in structure/chemistry of brain, so it is physiological
function like behavior. Consciousness related to communication, since ability to send/receive messages with
others enables us to send/receive our own message, think and be aware of our existence.
Blind sight: ability of person who cannot see objects in blind field to accurately reach while remaining
unconscious of perceiving; damage to “mammalian” (visual cortex of brain, nerve fibers bring info from
brain to eyes, ability to perceive world, vs. “primitive,” controls eye movements, brings attention to
sudden movements) visual system. Shows behavior can be guided by sensory info of which we’re not
aware, perceptions don’t need to enter consciousness to affect behavior. Visual info can control behavior
w/o producing conscious sensation; consciousness not general property of all brain. Relate to
communication, b/c primitive system evolved before consciousness, does not have connection, so we are
not conscious of visual info it detects, but is connected to brain parts that control hand movements.
Mammalian visual system has direct connections w/ parts of brain responsible for consciousness.
Split brains: disconnecting parts of brain involved w/ perception from parts involved w/ verbal behavior
also disconnects from consciousness, suggests that parts of brain involved in verbal are responsible for
consciousness. Epilepsy: nerve cells in one side overactive, transmitted to other by corpus callosum:
large bundle of nerve fibers, connect corresponding parts of one side of brain w/ other. Split-brain
operation: cutting corpus callosum, reduce frequency of seizures caused by both sides stimulating.
Cerebral hemispheres: symmetrical halves of brain, largest part, receive sensory info from opposite
side of body (except smell), control movement of opp sides. Corpus callosum allows info-sharing, each
side knows what other is perceiving/doing. After operation, hemispheres operate independently; sensory
mechanisms/memories/motor systems can’t exchange info. L controls speech, R verbal instructions but
can’t speak. Conclusion: we become conscious of something only if info reaches parts of brain
responsible for verbal communication (L). If info does get there, then does not reach consciousness.
Unilateral neglect: failure to notice things on L, caused by damage to R parietal lobe cortex –body and
position + auditory/visual info, putting together info about location of body w/ locations of objects.
People can answer if objects identical even if they said they were unaware of L stimulus. To perceive
L/R ½ of object, must perceive entire object first. No R neglect. Rubber hand illusion: importance of
parietal lobe in feeling body ownership. Increased activity in parietal, then premotor cortex (plan
movements) when subjects felt rubber hand as own. Not activated if stroking not in sync. When parietal
cortex detected congruent strokes, info transmitted to premotor cortex, gave rise to feeling ownership.
Interim Summary: modern science = monistic position, supported by studies of functions of nervous system
Nature of Physiological Psyc: ultimate function of brain=behavior, supported by thinking. Perception informs
us of what is happening behaviors adaptive, useful. Ability to think evolved b/c lets us to perform complex
behavioraccomplish goals. Ability to learn/remember evolved b/c it let ancestors profit from experience.
Goal of research: scientific explanation in 2 forms: generalization (general conclusion based on many
observations of similar phenomena), reduction: phenomenon described in terms of elementary process
that underlie it. Must understand psyc why behavior occurs before we understand physio, b/c identical
behaviors may occur for different reasons, be initiated by different physio mechanismstell us about
psyc processes, esp. for complex phenomena; nature of impairments shows us how they’re organized.
E.g., damage to specific partspecific impairments, nature of which suggests how abilities organized. Bio roots of physio psyc: heart seat of thoughts/emotions, Hippocrates said brain. Aristotle: brain cooled
passions of heart, Galen disagreed.
o Descartes (modern phil): world set in motion by god, ran course w/o divine interference. Human
body = machine w/ reflex: auto, stereotyped movement as result of stimulus. Dualist, each
person possessed mind not subject to laws of unive