Neuropsychology

Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain by António R. Damásio

By António R. Damásio

During this wondrously lucid and interesting booklet, popular neurologist Antonio Damasio demonstrates what many people have lengthy suspected: feelings aren't a luxurious, they're necessary to rational thinking.Descartes' mistakes takes the reader on a captivating trip of medical discovery, beginning with the case of Phineas Gage--a building foreman who in 1848 survived a freak twist of fate within which a three 0.5 foot iron rod undergone his head--and carrying on with directly to Damasio's stories with modern day neurological sufferers tormented by mind harm. faraway from interfering with rationality, his learn exhibits us, the absence of emotion and feeling can holiday down rationality and make clever determination making virtually very unlikely.

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As a result of the destruction, a large component of the right frontal cortices was not functionally viable. On both sides, the parts of the frontal lobe concerned with controll­ ing movement (the motor and premotor regions) were not damaged. This was not surprising, since Elliot's movements were entirely nor­ mal. Also, as expected, the frontal language-related cortices (Broca's area and its surroundings) were intact. The regionjust behind the base ofthe frontal lobe, the basal forebrain, was likewise intact.

Implicit in Elliot's normal performance in this test are the ability to attend and operate on a working memory, as well as an essential logical compe­ tence and the ability to change mental set. The ability to make estimates on the basis of incomplete knowl­ edge is another index of superior intellectual function that is often compromised in patients with frontal lobe damage. Two researchers, Tim Shallice and M. 4 Imagine being asked, for example, how many giraffes there are in New York C ity, or how many elephants in the state of Iowa.

The three-dimensional reconstruction i n figure 2-2 represents the cerebrum, the main com­ ponent of the central nervous system. In addition to the cerebrum, with its left and right cerebral hemispheres joined by the corpus callosum (a thick collection of nerve fibers connecting left and right hemispheres bidirectionally), the central nervous system includes the Figure 2-3' Two sections through a reconstructed living human brain obtained with magnetic resonance imaging (M RI) and the Brainvox technique.

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