The brain versus the spirit

Years ago I worked at MIT in the psychology department.  I was working as a secretary to a neuroscience team working on brain research – particulary – a new procedure called a cingulotomy. This is a  form of psychosurgery which involves lesioning all or part of the brain’s cingulate gyrus.   

This is the location....

This surgery was developed as a lobotomy alternative, and its used today to treat severe cases of chronic pain or obsessive-compulsive disorder.  At the time I was working at MIT, I was also doing musical theatre (Guys & Dolls, The Apple Tree) and it was a surreal experience to be delving into the mysteries of the brain and neural pathways and to try and make sense of musical comedies. I don’t know if I’m making the connection clear, but I was reminded of this when I came across a recent TED article on brain research.

The fascinating part of this brain research, for me at least, was the capricious character of the neural pathways.  (rather like the rehearsal process).  You could alter the neural pathways of the brain (rather than removing the brain matter as in a lobotomy) but the brain would sometimes recreate it’s own “freeway” system of connections, often individualized in a way that couldn’t be anticipated.

I remember conversations with some of the scientist about the “location” of the brain – was the intelligence of the body a wholistic content – was the spirit of the person able to determine where/how the brain located its memory? 

So here is the article on TED that made me think about MIT/The Apple Tree/and the dancing girls in “A Bushel And A Peck” today.  My neural pathways are tingling.



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