Saturday, June 30, 2007
A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness
I've been reading V.S. Ramachandran's A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness. He's a biggedy-wig neuroscientist with titles that go on and on. In the book he describes the phenomenon of phantom limb, specifically phantom limb pain. Often, if the patient's limb was in a prolonged contracted or physically painful condition prior to amputation, the pain continues even though the limb is no longer there.
Ramachandran has been able to "cure" phantom limb pain using mirrors, to trick the brain into seeing the limb healthy, uncontracted, and moving in working order. The patient is really seeing a reflection of his intact limb, but the brain believes it to be the missing limb, and therefore stops firing pain signals.
The brain is an amazingly complex, capable, elastic organ.
My take home message?
Don't ever put limits on my kid.