Intelligent Design Mind Naturalism Neuroscience

Split brain does NOT lead to split consciousness?

Spread the love

What? After all the naturalist pop psych lectures we paid good money for at the U? Well, suckers r’ us.

From Medical News Today:

A new research study contradicts the established view that so-called split-brain patients have a split consciousness. Instead, the researchers behind the study, led by UvA psychologist Yair Pinto, have found strong evidence showing that despite being characterised by little to no communication between the right and left brain hemispheres, split brain does not cause two independent conscious perceivers in one brain. Their results are published in the latest edition of the journal Brain.

Split brain is a lay term to describe the result of a corpus callosotomy, a surgical procedure first performed in the 1940s to alleviate severe epilepsy among patients. During this procedure, the corpus callosum, a bundle of neural fibres connecting the left and right cerebral hemispheres, is severed to prevent the spread of epileptic activity between the two brain halves. While mostly successful in relieving epilepsy, the procedure also virtually eliminates all communication between the cerebral hemispheres, thereby resulting in a ‘split brain’.

This condition was made famous by the work of Nobel laureate Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga. In their canonical work, Sperry and Gazzaniga discovered that split-brain patients can only respond to stimuli in the right visual field with their right hand and vice versa. This was taken as evidence that severing the corpus callosum causes each hemisphere to gain its own consciousness.

For their study, Pinto and his fellow researchers conducted a series of tests on two patients who had undergone a full callosotomy. In one of the tests, the patients were placed in front of a screen and shown various objects displayed in several locations. The patients were then asked to confirm whether an object appeared and to indicate its location. In another test, they had to correctly name the object they had seen, a notorious difficulty among spit-brain patients.

To the researchers’ surprise, the patients were able to respond to stimuli throughout the entire visual field with all the response types: left hand, right hand and verbally. Pinto: ‘The patients could accurately indicate whether an object was present in the left visual field and pinpoint its location, even when they responded with the right hand or verbally. This despite the fact that their cerebral hemispheres can hardly communicate with each other and do so at perhaps 1 bit per second, which is less than a normal conversation. I was so surprised that I decide repeat the experiments several more times with all types of control.’

According to Pinto, the results present clear evidence for unity of consciousness in split-brain patients. ‘The established view of split-brain patients implies that physical connections transmitting massive amounts of information are indispensable for unified consciousness, i.e. one conscious agent in one brain. Our findings, however, reveal that although the two hemispheres are completely insulated from each other, the brain as a whole is still able to produce only one conscious agent. This directly contradicts current orthodoxy and highlights the complexity of unified consciousness.’ Paper. (paywall) – Split brain: divided perception but undivided consciousness Yair Pinto David A. Neville Marte Otten Paul M. Corballis Victor A. F. Lamme Edward H. F de Haan Nicoletta Foschi Mara Fabri More.

One awaits replication with great interest. In the meantime, who decided that the connections for consciousness had to be material anyway? Perceptronium man and New Scientist? Oh well then, that settles it.

See also: Seven myths of social psychology


What great physicists have said about immateriality and consciousness

Follow UD News at Twitter!

Maybe not this after all:

8 Replies to “Split brain does NOT lead to split consciousness?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    News, you find some really nice studies. Thank you.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    I think this study adds significant weight to the contention that the two hemispheres of the brain must be quantum entangled in order to explain instantaneous synchronization between the two hemispheres:

    Quantum Entangled Consciousness – Life After Death – Stuart Hameroff – video (1:55 minute mark)

    The Puzzling Role Of Biophotons In The Brain – Dec. 17, 2010
    Excerpt: It’s certainly true that electrical activity in the brain is synchronised over distances that cannot be easily explained. Electrical signals travel too slowly to do this job, so something else must be at work.,,,
    ,,, It’s a big jump to assume that photons do this job.

    ,,, zero time lag neuronal synchrony despite long conduction delays – 2008
    Excerpt: Multielectrode recordings have revealed zero time lag synchronization among remote cerebral cortical areas. However, the axonal conduction delays among such distant regions can amount to several tens of milliseconds. It is still unclear which mechanism is giving rise to isochronous discharge of widely distributed neurons, despite such latencies,,,
    Remarkably, synchrony of neuronal activity is not limited to short-range interactions within a cortical patch. Interareal synchronization across cortical regions including interhemispheric areas has been observed in several tasks (7, 9, 11–14).,,,
    Beyond its functional relevance, the zero time lag synchrony among such distant neuronal ensembles must be established by mechanisms that are able to compensate for the delays involved in the neuronal communication.
    Latencies in conducting nerve impulses down axonal processes can amount to delays of several tens of milliseconds between the generation of a spike in a presynaptic cell and the elicitation of a postsynaptic potential (16). The question is how, despite such temporal delays, the reciprocal interactions between two brain regions can lead to the associated neural populations to fire in unison (i.e. zero time lag).,,,

    The following paper appeals to a ‘non-local’, (i.e. beyond space and time), cause to try to explain the synchronization in neural circuits,,,

    Nonlocal mechanism for cluster synchronization in neural circuits – 2011
    Excerpt: The findings,,, call for reexamining sources of correlated activity in cortex,,,

    Moreover, when we sleep the non-local, beyond space and time, coherence displayed by the waking brain disappears.
    At about the 21:45 minute mark of the following video, an interesting experiment on the sleeping brain is highlighted in which it is demonstrated that there is a fairly profound difference in in the way the brain ‘shares information’ between different parts of the brain in its sleeping state compared to how the brain ‘shares information’ in its waking state. i.e. In the sleeping state, the brain shares much less information with different parts of the brain than the brain does during our waking state.

    Through The Wormhole s02e01 Is There Life After Death – video (21:46 minute mark)

    Further notes:

    The Case for the Soul: Refuting Physicalist Objections – video
    Computers vs. Qualia, Libet and ‘Free won’t’, Split Brain (unified attention of brain despite split hemispheres, as well, visual and motion information is shared between the two hemispheres despite the hemispheres being split),

    The Case for the Soul (Near-Death Experiences) – video (Quantum Entangled consciousness and conservation of quantum information discussed at 9:00 minute mark)

  3. 3
    Dionisio says:

    Very interesting article. Thank you.
    The first paragraph couldn’t be written better for introducing the topic. It made me laugh out loud.

  4. 4
    gpuccio says:


    Very interesting paper.

    Of course, it is further evidence that the subject of perception is unique, and in no way it can be explained by physical arrangements of many complex parts.

    The brain is a machine. A wonderful, incredible machine, but a machine just the same. It is designed to be an interface for the perceiving I.

    And, of course, BA is perfectly right: the interface can only work at quantum level, or at even deeper levels that we cannot yet understand.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note to this surprising result for split brains is the surprising result found for hemispherectomies:

    Although atheistic materialists hold that we are not really real persons, as we take ourselves to be every waking moment of our lives, but are merely ‘neuronal illusions’,,,

    “What you’re doing is simply instantiating a self: the program run by your neurons which you feel is “you.””
    Jerry Coyne

    The Confidence of Jerry Coyne – Ross Douthat – January 6, 2014
    Excerpt: then halfway through this peroration, we have as an aside the confession that yes, okay, it’s quite possible given materialist premises that “our sense of self is a neuronal illusion.” At which point the entire edifice suddenly looks terribly wobbly — because who, exactly, is doing all of this forging and shaping and purpose-creating if Jerry Coyne, as I understand him (and I assume he understands himself) quite possibly does not actually exist at all? The theme of his argument is the crucial importance of human agency under eliminative materialism, but if under materialist premises the actual agent is quite possibly a fiction, then who exactly is this I who “reads” and “learns” and “teaches,” and why in the universe’s name should my illusory self believe Coyne’s bold proclamation that his illusory self’s purposes are somehow “real” and worthy of devotion and pursuit? (Let alone that they’re morally significant:,,) Read more here:

    Although atheistic materialists hold that we are not real persons but are merely illusions of our brain, hemespherectomies contradict this claim by atheists.

    If a person were merely the brain, 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.,,,

    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. ,,,

    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.

    It is interesting how core claims by atheists are always upset by empirical findings.

    If atheists were truly scientific in their concerns then they would soon change their mind and become Theists of some sort.

    There must be something other than science that is in play for most atheists that prevents them from being honest to the evidence and changing their beliefs.

  6. 6
    Querius says:

    Bornagain 77 wrote

    It is interesting how core claims by atheists are always upset by empirical findings.

    If atheists were truly scientific in their concerns then they would soon change their mind and become Theists of some sort.

    So true!


  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Here is Coyne’s original quote to Douthat:

    Ross Douthat Is On Another Erroneous Rampage Against Secularism – Jerry Coyne – December 26, 2013
    Excerpt: “many (but not all) of us accept the notion that our sense of self is a neuronal illusion.”
    Jerry Coyne – Professor of Evolutionary Biology – Atheist

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note:

    “I think the idea of (materialists) saying that consciousness is an illusion doesn’t really work because the very notion of an illusion presupposes consciousness. There are no illusions unless there is a conscious experience or (a conscious person) for whom there is an illusion.”
    Evan Thompson, Philosopher – author of Waking, Dreaming, Being

Leave a Reply