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Neurons - Cognitive Neuroscience Historical background Are...

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Cognitive Neuroscience Historical background Are cognitive functions localized? What is the role of neurons?
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Progress in science? • Data accumulation • Technological advances • Conceptual/intellectual progress
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• “….it is only through historical study that one can really appreciate new ideas, see the faults in existing theories and determine the best path to follow for innovative new research” (Finger, 1994)
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Localization of the mind to the heart or to the brain? Aristotle (384­322 B.C .) Cardiocentric ­ thought heart was the seat of emotional and intellectual functions Heart – active, central, blood + chicken’s body remains active after decapitation! Brain: cools the seething heart. Because heat rises and because the brain is cool, the network of blood vessels blanketing the cool brain seemed well suited to act like a radiator… The large size relative to other animals is because humans are warmer than other animals.. The large cool human brain…. Allowed for the most efficient type of cooling and thus assured the most rational of hearts (Finger, pg 14)
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Earliest views regarding localization of mental function Ventricular localization Perception/imagination: lateral ventricles Cognition: third ventricle Memory: fourth ventricle Held from the 1 st centuries through the Middle Ages and Renaissance Why?
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Ventricular Localization Based on the view that animal spirits (CSF) are the instrument of the soul. The soul acts on these spirits by controlling their flow thru the nerves and thus directing the actions of the body. Influenced by the technology of the time : mechanical dolls operating with hydraulic mechanisms. (e.g., gardens of Versailles)
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Descartes: “Why do you withdraw your hand from the fire? The force of the external object is such to provoke a greater dilation of the nervous tubes that open up in the surface of the interior cavity of the brain, thus allowing them to conduct a greater flow of the spirits that issue from the pineal gland. These spirits then modify the disposition of the cerebral tubules and enter the nerves of the limb where they cause the hand to withdraw”.
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17 th and 18 th centuries Ventricles are unlikely seat of higher mental functions since the ventricles of humans are not dissimilar from those of animals with clearly inferior mental abilities Cerebral cortex is the site of higher mental activities, lower structures are responsible for motor and perceptual functions However, no specific localization of these functions within these general areas
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19 th Century • Localization of respiration to the medulla – Le Gallois • Localization of sensory and motor functions to the dorsal and ventral roots of the spinal cord respectively – Bell, Magendie If functions can be localized within these structures, perhaps there is also localization of higher functions in the cortex?
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Competing Views Functional localization: certain parts of the brain perform specific higher functions – there may be interaction between them but the
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