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Chapter 1

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PSYC 211
Kevin Francis Casey

Chapter 1 IntroductionIn ancient times movements were thought to be made by animating spirits animismTheyve since abandoned this approach in favour of physical explanationsHumans think we have something intangible that animates us a spirit a mind a soulDoes the mind control the nervous system Is it a part of the nervous system This is THE MINDBODY QUESTIONDualism The belief that the body is physical but the mind or soul is notMonism The belief that the world consists only of matter and energy and that the mind is a phenomenon produced by the workings of the nervous systemScientists believe that we will eventually be able to solve the mindbody problem through empirical practical and monistic approachesUnderstanding Human Consciousness A Physiological ApproachConsciousness in this sense means that we are aware of our thoughts perceptions memories and feelingsWe can hypothesize that consciousness is a physiological function just like behaviourIt is possible that our ability to communicate gave rise to consciousnessOur ability to send and receive messages with other people enables us to send and receive our own messages inside our own headsBlindsight The ability of a person who cannot see objects in his or her blind field to accurately reach for them while remaining unconscious of perceiving them caused by damage to the mammalian visual system of the brain See Figure 12Suggests that the common belief that we must perceive something in order for our behaviour to be affected is false We can be guided by something that enters into our sensation without being aware of it at allTwo systems of the visual system can explain blindsightFirst more primitive system evolved mainly for controlling eye movements and bringing to our attention sudden movements that occur off to the side of our field of visionSecond mammalian visual system is responsible for our perception of the world around us Blindsight is caused by damage to this systemWe use the primitive system during blindsight so we can reach for objects even though we dont know what were looking at This suggests that consciousness is not a general property of all parts of the brainSplit BrainsSurgical procedures disconnect two parts of the brain to help with severe epilepsy Nerve cells on one side of the brain become overactive and the activitiy is transmitted to the other side of the brain via the corpus callosum The largest commissure of the brain interconnecting the areas of neocortex on each side of the brain These transmissions cause seizuresSplitbrain operation Brain surgery that is occasionally performed to treat a form of epilepsy the surgeon cuts the corpus callosum This can greatly reduce the frequency of epileptic seizuresCerebral hemispheres The two symmetrical halves of the brain constitute the major part of the brain The corpus callosum allows communication between the two halvesExample the right hemisphere of an epileptic person with a split brain is capable of understanding instructions but is totally incapable of producing speechA person will find themselves putting down a book held in their left hand even though theyre very interested because the right hemisphere which controls movement of the left hand cannot read and therefore finds the book boringUnilateral Neglect A syndrome in which people ignored objects located toward their left and the left sides of objects located anywhere most often caused by damage to the right parietal lobe The parietal cortex is responsible for putting together information about the movements and location of the parts of the body with the locations of objects in space around usThe can sense things on the left side of their bodies but they just act as if it doesnt existVolpe LeDoux Gazzaniga presented subjects with a stimulus on the left and right visual fields The subjects reported seeing only the one in the right visual field but when asked if the two stimuli were identical the answered correctlyPeople with unilateral neglect fail to notice not only things to their left but also the left halves of thingsBisiach and Luzzatti asked patients to imagine themselves standing to the north of a piazza they described only the west side to their right When they imagine themselves standing to the south they described only the east side
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