Advances and New Directions

By Silvano Arieti; H. Keith H. Brodie | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2

SPLIT-BRAIN STUDIES:
IMPLICATIONS FOR
PSYCHIATRY *

Michael S. Gazzaniga

Bruce T. Volpe


¶ Human Brain Bisection—
Present Perspective

RAIN SCIENCE has for the most part been unable to explain the mechanism through which human beings generate a sense of subjective reality. In the past, most of the energy devoted to the problem was spent on considering whether this question could be reasonably studied. Recently, concerns of a more strategic nature have appeared. The neurobiologist approaches the study of mental processes in a reductionist fashion. As a consequence, current discussion of a mental process such as memory is frequently cast entirely in biochemical terms. 12

Although these studies have begun to elucidate the synaptic and cellular events, it is less clear how they promote an understanding of memory, let alone human memory.

The recurring strategic problem that continually plagues biological approaches to psychological processes is the blurred distinction between levels of analysis. This difficulty becomes apparent when we compare the brain to a computer. There is no way the power of a computer algorithm can be deduced by an analysis of the chemical nature of the individual transistors that subserve those functions. The algorithmic functions are a property of the system resulting from the interaction of elements, and they can only be understood at that level.

In this chapter, the objective is to promote an understanding of conscious processes at the level of human behavior. The approach

____________________
*
Aided by U.S. Public Health Service Grant no. NS 15053, the McKnight Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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