BRAIN DAMAGE: A WINDOW ON THE MIND
OVER the past decades our understanding of brain chemistry, of neural circuitry, and of sensory and motor processes has so increased as to render obsolete the medical textbooks of an earlier generation. But how much have these lines of neurological investigation--usually conducted with "lower" animals and dependent upon microscopic preparations--revealed about the functioning of the human mind? Can we draw from studies at the cellular level insights about these intellectual, emotional, and social capacities of pivotal importance within human society? In truth, it must be said: the gap between most work in the brain sciences and the elucidation of our own "higher functions" remains enormous.
Over the past century, however, there has accumulated an unexpected but highly revealing set of insights that illuminates precisely those functions central in human intellectual activity. From the careful study of normal individuals whose brains have been injured, we receive penetrating insights into the nature of such cerebral activities as reading, writing, speaking, drawing, doing mathematics, and making music. We can uncover the links--and the distances--between such activities. And we can gain fertile clues about those enigmas that have long intrigued both philosophers and laymen. What is the nature of memory? Can one think without language? Are all art forms cut from a single cloth?