Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Michael Egnor: If your brain were cut in half, would you still be one person?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Corpus-callosum-from-above-Grays-Anatomy-public-domain.png
In a corpus callosotomy, the brain is split in half., to ease epileptic seizures.

Yes, he says, with minor disabilities. Roger Sperry’s Nobel Prize-winning split-brain research convinced him that the mind and free will are real:

So Sperry asked a question. He said, “What happens to these people?” It was clear that, by cutting the corpus callosum, their seizures were made better but were they still one person? What did cutting the brain, basically in half, do to a person? So he studied these patients in great detail.

I’ve had patients with this as well and what he found is what I and other neurosurgeons who have dealt with this have found, that you cut the brain basically in half and—except for the fact that their seizures usually get better—they’re no different. They’re perfectly all right…

I’m not aware of anyone who has brought up the point that the split brain surgery strongly supports the viewpoint that the intellect is metaphysically simple and is an immaterial power of the mind, even though the research obviously supports that view.

Michael Egnor, “ If your brain were cut in half, would you still be one person?” at Mind Matters News

Sperry himself thought that his research supported an immaterial view of the mind but many sources talk around the point when describing his work.

as to
Or even more provocative, what if you removed one hemisphere of the brain altogether? Would you then still be one person? The answer is yes! If a person were merely the brain,, or even a 'neuronal illusion', as materialists hold, then if half of a brain were removed then a 'person' should only be ‘half the person’, or at least somewhat less of a 'person', as they were before. But that is not the case, the ‘whole person’ stays intact even though the brain suffers severe impairment:
Removing Half of Brain Improves Young Epileptics' Lives: - 1997 Excerpt: "We are awed by the apparent retention of memory and by the retention of the child's personality and sense of humor,'' Dr. Eileen P. G. Vining,, Dr. John Freeman, the director of the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Epilepsy Center, said he was dumbfounded at the ability of children to regain speech after losing the half of the brain that is supposedly central to language processing. ''It's fascinating,'' Dr. Freeman said. ''The classic lore is that you can't change language after the age of 2 or 3.'' But Dr. Freeman's group has now removed diseased left hemispheres in more than 20 patients, including three 13-year-olds whose ability to speak transferred to the right side of the brain in much the way that Alex's did.,,, http://www.nytimes.com/1997/08/19/science/removing-half-of-brain-improves-young-epileptics-lives.html In further comment from the neuro-surgeons in the John Hopkins study: "Despite removal of one hemisphere, the intellect of all but one of the children seems either unchanged or improved. Intellect was only affected in the one child who had remained in a coma, vigil-like state, attributable to peri-operative complications." Strange but True: When Half a Brain Is Better than a Whole One - May 2007 Excerpt: Most Hopkins hemispherectomy patients are five to 10 years old. Neurosurgeons have performed the operation on children as young as three months old. Astonishingly, memory and personality develop normally. ,,, Another study found that children that underwent hemispherectomies often improved academically once their seizures stopped. "One was champion bowler of her class, one was chess champion of his state, and others are in college doing very nicely," Freeman says. Of course, the operation has its downside: "You can walk, run—some dance or skip—but you lose use of the hand opposite of the hemisphere that was removed. You have little function in that arm and vision on that side is lost," Freeman says. Remarkably, few other impacts are seen. ,,, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=strange-but-true-when-half-brain-better-than-whole How Removing Half of Someone's Brain Can Improve Their Life – Oct. 2015 Excerpt: Next spring, del Peral (who has only half a brain) will graduate from Curry College, where she has made the dean’s list every semester since freshman year. http://www.mentalfloss.com/article/70120/how-removing-half-someones-brain-can-improve-their-life
There are even more extraordinary examples than that.
Discrepancy Between Cerebral Structure and Cognitive Functioning: A Review - 2017 Excerpt: The aforementioned student of mathematics had a global IQ of 130 and a verbal IQ of 140 at the age of 25 (Lorber, 1983), but had “virtually no brain” (Lewin 1980, p. 1232).,,, This student belonged to the group of patients that Lorber classified as having “extreme hydrocephalus,” meaning that more than 90% of their cranium appeared to be filled with cerebrospinal fluid (Lorber, 1983).,,, Apart from the above-mentioned student of mathematics, he described a woman with an extreme degree of hydrocephalus showing “virtually no cerebral mantle” who had an IQ of 118, a girl aged 5 who had an IQ of 123 despite extreme hydrocephalus, a 7-year-old boy with gross hydrocephalus and an IQ of 128, another young adult with gross hydrocephalus and a verbal IQ of 144, and a nurse and an English teacher who both led normal lives despite gross hydrocephalus.,,, Another interesting case is that of a 44-year-old woman with very gross hydrocephalus described by Masdeu (2008) and Masdeu et al. (2009). She had a global IQ of 98, worked as an administrator for a government agency, and spoke seven languages.,,, ,,, , people who grew up with only one hemisphere developed all the neuronal foundations needed for ordinary cognitive and most motor skills. Even so, it seems additionally surprising that one hemisphere can accomplish this after the other has been removed or was isolated anatomically and functionally from the rest of the brain, as it is the case of surgical hemispherectomy.,,, It is astonishing that many patients can lead an ordinary life after this drastic procedure, having only minor motor disabilities that result from mild hemiplegia.,,, McFie (1961) was astonished that “not only does it (one hemishere) perform motor and sensory functions for both sides of the body, it performs the associative and intellectual functions normally allocated to two hemispheres” (p. 248).,,, ,,, most patients, even adults, do not seem to lose their long-term memory such as episodic (autobiographic) memories.,,, https://med.virginia.edu/perceptual-studies/wp-content/uploads/sites/360/2017/12/Discrepancy-between-cerebral-structure-and-cognitive-functioning-JNMD.pdf "Katie, like you and me, has a soul." - Michael Egnor Science and the Soul - Michael Egnor - June 2018 Excerpt: I watched the CAT scan images appear on the screen, one by one. The baby’s head was mostly empty. There were only thin slivers of brain – a bit of brain tissue at the base of the skull, and a thin rim around the edges. The rest was water. Her parents had feared this. We had seen it on the prenatal ultrasound; the CAT scan, hours after birth, was much more accurate. Katie looked like a normal newborn, but she had little chance at a normal life. She had a fraternal-twin sister in the incubator next to her. But Katie only had a third of the brain that her sister had. I explained all of this to her family, trying to keep alive a flicker of hope for their daughter. I cared for Katie as she grew up. At every stage of Katie’s life so far, she has excelled. She sat and talked and walked earlier than her sister. She’s made the honor roll. She will soon graduate high school. I’ve had other patients whose brains fell far short of their minds. Maria had only two-thirds of a brain. She needed a couple of operations to drain fluid, but she thrives. She just finished her master’s degree in English literature, and is a published musician. Jesse was born with a head shaped like a football and half-full of water – doctors told his mother to let him die at birth. She disobeyed. He is a normal happy middle-schooler, loves sports, and wears his hair long. Some people with deficient brains are profoundly handicapped. But not all are. I’ve treated and cared for scores of kids who grow up with brains that are deficient but minds that thrive. How is this possible? Neuroscience, and Thomas Aquinas, point to the answer.,,, The most remarkable result of Sperry’s Nobel Prize­–winning work was that the person’s intellect and will – what we might call the soul – remained undivided. The brain can be cut in half, but the intellect and will cannot.,,, I see her (Katie) in my office each year. She is thriving: headstrong and bright. Her mother is exasperated, and, after seventeen years, still surprised. So am I. There is much about the brain and the mind that I don’t understand. But neuroscience tells a consistent story. There is a part of Katie’s mind that is not her brain. She is more than that. She can reason and she can choose. There is a part of her that is immaterial – the part that Sperry couldn’t split, that Penfield couldn’t reach, and that Libet couldn’t find with his electrodes. There is a part of Katie that didn’t show up on those CAT scans when she was born. Katie, like you and me, has a soul. https://www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/reconciliation/science-and-the-soul
The inescapable conclusion is that our sense of self cannot possibly be just a 'neuronal illusion' as atheists claim, but in order to explain how it is possible for the 'whole person' to stay intact even though the brain itself suffers severe impairment, we are forced to refer to ourselves, i.e. to our personhood, as souls!
“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” George MacDonald - Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood - 1892 "Men have souls. Once one accepts that premise, one must accept the conclusions that follow from it: creatures with souls are not evolved from slime, since spirit, being simple and eternal, cannot be brought into being by matter, which is compound, subject to change and decay, nor brought into being by any blind natural process; therefore, instead, spirit must be created in a divine image, with the faculties of reason and conscience and creativity." - John C. Wright http://www.scifiwright.com/2020/01/the-iron-triangle-by-vince-ellison/
Related notes and verse:
"We regard promissory materialism as superstition without a rational foundation. The more we discover about the brain, the more clearly do we distinguish between the brain events and the mental phenomena, and the more wonderful do both the brain events and mental phenomena become. Promissory materialism is simply a religious belief held by dogmatic materialists who often confuse their religion with their science." - John C. Eccles, The Wonder of Being Human: Our Brain and Our Mind - 1984 - won a Nobel Prize in 1963 for his work on synapses Darwinian Materialism vs. Quantum Biology – Part II - video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSig2CsjKbg Mark 8:37 Is anything worth more than your soul?
Can't be. I only transcribed it yesterday. What do you think of the general idea? News
I noticed a couple of these seem to be rehashes of something that’s already aired didn’t we already have a post on this one specifically AaronS1978

Leave a Reply