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By V. S. Ramachandran, Sandra Blakeslee

Neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran is the world over popular for uncovering solutions to the deep and quirky questions of human nature that few scientists have dared to deal with. His daring insights concerning the mind are matched basically through the beautiful simplicity of his experiments -- utilizing such low-tech instruments as cotton swabs, glasses of water and dime-store mirrors. In Phantoms within the Brain, Dr. Ramachandran recounts how his paintings with sufferers who've strange neurological problems has shed new mild at the deep structure of the mind, and what those findings let us know approximately who we're, how we build our physique photo, why we snicker or develop into depressed, why we might think in God, how we make judgements, misinform ourselves and dream, even perhaps why we are so shrewdpermanent at philosophy, song and artwork. a few of his so much amazing cases:

  • A lady paralyzed at the left facet of her physique who believes she is lifting a tray of beverages with either fingers deals a different chance to check Freud's thought of denial.
  • a guy who insists he's conversing with God demanding situations us to invite: may well we be "wired" for spiritual experience?
  • a girl who hallucinates caricature characters illustrates how, in a feeling, we're all hallucinating, the entire time.

Dr. Ramachandran's encouraged scientific detective paintings pushes the limits of medicine's final nice frontier -- the human brain -- yielding new and provocative insights into the "big questions" approximately attention and the self.

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Or does it suggest that the knowledge does not exist at any place in her mind? The latter view turns out not going. If the data does not exist, why does the sufferer say such things as "I tied my shoelaces with either my hands''' or "I cannot wait to come back to two−fisted beer drinking"? And why evasive comments like "I'm now not ambidextrous"? reviews like those indicate that "somebody" in there 102 is aware she is paralyzed, yet that the knowledge isn't to be had to the wide awake brain. if that is so, is there a way to entry that forbidden wisdom? to determine, we took benefit of an creative test played in 1987 by way of an Italian neurologist, Eduardo Bisiach, on a sufferer with forget and denial. Bisiach took a syringe packed with ice−cold water and irrigated the patient's left ear canal—a strategy that exams vestibular nerve functionality. inside a couple of seconds the patient's eyes began to circulate vigorously in a strategy known as nystagmus. The chilly water units up a convection present within the ear canals, thereby fooling the mind into pondering the pinnacle is relocating and into making involuntary correctional eye pursuits that we name nystagmus. whilst Bisiach then requested the denial sufferer even if she may perhaps use her hands, she flippantly answered that she had no need of her left arm! Amazingly, the chilly water irrigation of the left ear had led to an entire (though transitority) remission from the ano−sognosia. while I examine this scan, I jumped out of my seat. right here used to be a neurological syndrome produced via a correct parietal lesion that were reversed via the easy act of squirting water into the ear. Why hadn't this impressive scan made headlines within the ny occasions? certainly, i found that almost all of my expert colleagues had no longer even heard of the scan. I for that reason made up our minds to attempt an identical approach at the subsequent sufferer I observed with anosognosia. This grew to become out to be Mrs. Macken, an aged girl who 3 weeks prior had suffered a correct parietal stroke that ended in left facet paralysis. My goal was once not just to verify Bisiach's statement but additionally to invite questions in particular to check her memory—something that hadn't been performed systematically. If the sufferer without notice all started admitting that she used to be paralyzed, what may she say approximately her previous denials? may she deny her denials? If she admitted them, how may she account for them? might she potentially let us know why she were denying them, or is that an absurd query? I were seeing Mrs. Macken each 3 or 4 days for 2 weeks, and every time we had passed through a similar rigmarole. "Mrs. Macken, are you able to stroll? " "Yes, i will stroll. " "Can you employ either hands? " "Yes. " "Are they both powerful? " "Yes. " "Can you progress your left hand? " "Yes. " "Can you progress your correct hand? " "Yes. " "Are they both robust? " 103 "Yes. " After facing the questions, I stuffed a syringe with ice−cold water and squirted it into her ear canal. As anticipated, her eyes began relocating within the attribute approach. After a couple of minute, i started to question her.

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