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And-most important-from this model may evolve the insights and tools we need to affect our own lives, mold our own destinies, change ourselves and our society in ways that, as yet, we can only imagine. The universe is suffused with spiritual messages, he says, if you just allow yourself to tune in.

I glance at his medical chart, noting that he has suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy since early adolescence, and that Dummy Mute Woman Dating when "God began talking" to him. Do his religious experiences have anything to do with his temporal lobe seizures?

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An amateur athlete lost his arm in a motorcycle accident but continues to feel a "phantom arm" with vivid sensations of movement. He can wave the missing arm in midair, "touch" things and even reach out and "grab" a coffee cup. If I pull the cup away from him suddenly, he yelps in pain. I can feel it being wrenched from my fingers," he says, wmcmg.

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But to her dismay, she often sees cartoon characters cavorting within the blind spot itself. Or sometimes she sees cartoon versions of real people she's always known.

A schoolteacher suffered a stroke that paralyzed the left side of her body, but she insists that her left arm is not paralyzed. Once, when I asked her whose arm was lying in the Dummy Mute Woman Dating next to her, she explained that the limb belonged to her brother.

A librarian from Philadelphia who had a different kind of stroke began to laugh uncontrollably. This went on for a full day, until she literally died laughing.

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And then there is Arthur, a young man who sustained a terrible head injury in an automobile crash and soon afterward claimed that his father and mother had been replaced by duplicates who looked exactly like his real parents. He recognized their faces but they seemed odd, unfamiliar. The only way Arthur could make any sense out of the situation was to assume that his parents were impostors. None of these people is "crazy" ; sending them to Dating Site Malagasy Ado would be a waste of time.

Rather, each of them suffers from damage to a specific part of the brain that leads to bizarre but highly characteristic changes in behavior. They hear voices, feel missing limbs, see things that no one else does, deny the obvious and make wild, Dummy Mute Woman Dating claims about other people and the world we all live in.

Yet for the most part they are lucid, rational and no more insane than you or I. Although enigmatic disorders like these have intrigued and perplexed physicians throughout history, they are usually chalked up as curiosities­ case studies stuffed into a drawer labeled "file and forget. Their goal is to alleviate symptoms and to make people well again, not necessarily to dig deeper or to learn how the brain works.

Psychiatrists often invent ad hoc theories for curious syndromes, as if a bizarre condition requires an equally bizarre explana­ tion. Odd Dummy Mute Woman Dating are blamed on the patient's upbringing bad thoughts from childhood or even on the patient's mother a bad nur­ turer.

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Phantoms in the Brain takes the opposite viewpoint. These pa­ tients, whose stories you will hear in detail, are our guides into the inner workings of the human brain-yours and mine. Have you ever wondered why some jokes are funny and others are not, why you make an explosive sound when fara seara? i marne laugh, why you are inclined to believe or disbelieve in God, and why you feel erotic sensations when someone sucks your toes?

Surprisingly, we can now be­ gin to provide scientific answers to at least some of these questions. Indeed, by studying these patients, we can even address lofty "philo­ sophical" questions about the nature of the self: Why do you endure as one person through space and time, and what brings about the seamless unity of subjective experience?

What does it mean to make a choice or to will an action? And more generally, how does the activity of tiny wisps of protoplasm in the brain lead to conscious experience? Philosophers love to debate questions like these, but it's only now becoming clear that such issues can be tackled experimentally. By moving these patients out of the clinic and into the laboratory, we can conduct experiments that help reveal the deep architecture of our brains.

Indeed, we can pick up where Freud left off, ushering in what might be called an era of experimental epistemology the study of how the brain repre­ sents knowledge and belief and cognitive neuropsychiatry the interface between mental and physical disorders of the brainand start experi­ menting on belief systems, consciousness, mind-body interactions and other hallmarks of human behavior.

I believe that Dummy Mute Woman Dating a medical scientist is not all that different from being a sleuth. In this book, I've attempted to share the sense of mystery that lies at the heart of all scientific pursuits and is especially characteristic of the forays we make in trying to understand our own minds. Each story begins with either an account of a patient displaying seemingly inexpli­ cable symptoms or a broad question about human nature, such as why we laugh or why we are so prone to self-deception.

We then go step by step through the same sequence of ideas that I followed in my own mind as I tried to tackle these cases. In some instances, as with phantom limbs, I can claim Dummy Mute Woman Dating have genuinely solved the mystery. In others-as in the chapter on God-the final answer remains elusive, even though we come tantalizingly close.

But whether the case is solved or not, I hope to con­ vey the spirit of intellectual adventure that accompanies this pursuit and makes neurology the most fascinating of all disciplines.

As Sherlock Holmes told Watson, "The game is afoot! But, by simply showing him photo­ graphs of different people and measuring the extent to which he starts sweating using a device similar to the lie detector testI was able to figure out exactly what had gone wrong in his brain see chapter 9. This is a recurring theme Dummy Mute Woman Dating this book: We begin with a set of symptoms that seem bizarre and incomprehensible and then end up-at least in some cases-with an intellectually satisfYing account in terms of the neural circuitry Dummy Mute Woman Dating the patient's brain.

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And in doing so, we have often not only discovered something new about how the brain works but simultaneously opened the doors to a whole new direction of research. But before we begin, I think it's important for you to understand my personal approach to science and why I am drawn to curious cases.

When I give talks to lay audiences around the country, one question comes up again and again: "When are you brain scientists ever going to come up with a unified theory for how the mind works? There's Einstein's general theory of relativity and Newton's universal law of gravitation in physics.

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Why not one for the brain? Every science has to go through an initial "experiment" or phenomena-driven stage-in which its practitioners are still discovering the basic laws-before it reaches a more sophisticated theory-driven stage. Consider the evolution of ideas about electricity and magnetism.

Although people had vague notions about lodestones and magnets for centuries and used them both for making compasses, the Victorian physicist Michael Faraday was the first to study magnets systematically.

He did two very simple experiments with astonishing results. In one experiment-which any schoolchild can re­ peat-he simply placed a bar magnet behind a sheet of paper, sprinkled Dummy Mute Woman Dating iron filings on the surface of the paper and found that they spontaneously aligned themselves along the magnetic lines of force this was the very first time anyone had demonstrated the existence of fields in physics.

In the second experiment, Faraday moved a bar magnet to and fro in the Dummy Mute Woman Dating of a coil of wire, and, lo and behold, this action produced an electrical current in the wire. These informal demonstra­ tions-and this book is full of examples of this sort-had deep implica­ tions:1 They linked magnetism and electricity for the first time.

My point is simply that neuroscience today is in the Faraday stage, not in the Maxwell stage, and there is no point in trying to jump ahead.

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I would love to be proved wrong, of course, and there is certainly no harm in trying to construct formal theories about the brain, even if one fails and there is no shortage of people who are trying. But for me, the best research strategy might be characterized as "tinkering. But that's exactly what I mean although these hunches are far from random; they are always guided by intuition. I've been Dummy Mute Woman Dating i n science as long as I can remember.

When I was eight or nine years old, I started collecting fossils and seashells, becoming obsessed with taxonomy and evolution. A little later I Dummy Mute Woman Dating up a small chemistry lab under the stairway in our house and enjoyed watching iron filings "fizz" in hydrochloric acid and listening to the hydrogen "pop" when I set fire to it.

The iron displaced the hydrogen from the hydro­ chloric acid to form iron chloride and hydrogen.

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The idea that you could learn so much from a simple experiment and that everything in the universe is based on such interactions was fascinating. I remember that when a teacher told me about Faraday's simple experiments, I was intrigued by the notion that you could accomplish so much with so little.

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These experiences left me with a permanent distaste for fancy equipment and the realization that you don't necessarily need complicated machines to generate scientific revolutions; all you need are some good hunches. In high school I wondered why iodine is the only element that turns from a solid to a vapor directly when heated, without first melting and going through a liquid stage.

Why does Saturn have rings and not the other planets? Why does water alone expand when it turns to ice, whereas every other liquid shrinks when it solidifies? Why do some animals not have sex? Why can tadpoles regenerate lost limbs though an adult frog cannot?

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Is it because the tadpole is younger, or is it because it's a tadpole? What would happen if you delayed metamorphosis by blocking the action of thyroid hormones you could put a few drops of thiouracil into the aquarium so that you ended up with a very old tadpole? As a schoolboy I made some feeble attempts to answer this, but, to my knowledge, we don't know the answer Dummy Mute Woman Dating to this day.

But it's an eccentricity that has remained with me since childhood, and fortunately I have been able to turn it into an advantage. Clinical neurology, in particular, is full of So? ia Guadelupe Dating Man examples that have been ignored by the "establishment" because they don't really fit received wisdom.

I have discovered, to my delight, that many of them are diamonds in the rough.

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For example, those who are suspcious of the claims of mind-body medicine should consider multiple personality disorders.

Some clinicians say that patients can actually "change" their eye structure when assuming different personas-a nearsighted person becomes farsighted, a blue-eyed person becomes brown-eyed-or that the patient's blood chemistry changes along with personality high blood glucose level with one and normal glucose level with another.

There are also case descriptions of people's hair turning white, literally overnight, after a severe psycholog­ ical shock and of pious nuns' developing stigmata on their palms in ec­ static union with Jesus. I find it surprising that despite three decades of research, we are not even sure whether these phenomena are real or bogus. Given all the hints that there is something interesting going on, why not examine these claims in greater detail?

Are they like alien ab­ duction and spoon bending, or are they genuine anomalies-like X rays or bacterial transformation4-that may someday drive paradigm shifts and scientific revolutions? Dummy Mute Woman Dating was personally drawn into medicine, a discipline full of ambiguities, because its Sherlock Holmes style of inquiry greatly appealed to me.

Diagnosing a patient's problem remains as much an art as a science, calling into Dummy Mute Woman Dating powers of observation, reason and all the human senses. I recall Dummy Mute Woman Dating professor, Dr. Thiruvengadam, instructing us how to identity disease by just smelling the patient-the unmistakable, sweetish nail polish breath of diabetic ketosis; the freshly baked bread odor of typhoid fever; the stale-beer stench of scrofula; the newly plucked chicken feathers aroma of rubella; the foul smell of a lung abscess; and the am­ monialike Windex odor of a patient in liver failure.

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And today Dummy Mute Woman Dating pedia­ trician might add the grape juice Dummy Mute Woman Dating of Pseudomonas infection in children and the sweaty-feet smell of isovaleric acidemia. Inspect the fingers carefully, Dr. Remarkably, this telltale sign-clubbing-disappears instantly on the op­ erating table as the surgeon removes the cancer, but, even to this day, Dummy Mute Woman Dating have no idea why it occurs.

Another teacher of mine, a professor of neurology, would insist on our diagnosing Parkinson's disease with our eyes closed-by simply listening to the patients' footsteps patients with this disorder have a characteristic shuffling gait. This detectivelike aspect of clinical medicine is a dying art in this age of high-tech medicine, but it planted a seed in my mind.

By carefully observing, listening, touching and, yes, even smelling the patient, one can arrive at a reasonable diag­ nosis and merely use laboratory tests to confirm what is already known.

Finally, when studying and treating a patient, it is the physician's Agen? ia Dating Dummy Mute Woman Dating always to ask himself, "What does it feel like to be in the patient's shoes?

For this reason, even though many of the clinical tales you will hear are tinged with sadness, equally often they are stories of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, and there is a strong undercurrent of optimism.

For example, one patient I saw-a neurologist from New York-suddenly at the age of sixty started experiencing epi­ leptic seizures arising from his right temporal lobe.

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The seizures were alarming, of course, but to his amazement and delight he found himself becoming fascinated by poetry, for the first time in his life. In fact, he began thinking in verse, producing a voluminous outflow of rhyme. He said that such a poetic view gave him a new lease on life, a fresh start just when he was starting to feel a bit jaded. Does it follow from this example that all of us are unfulfilled poets, as many new age gurus and mystics assert? Do we each have an untapped potential for beautiful verse and rhyme hidden in the recesses of our right hemisphere?

If so, is there any way we can unleash this latent ability, short of having seizures? Before we meet the patients, Dummy Mute Woman Dating mysteries and speculate about brain organization, I'd like to take you on a short guided tour of the human brain. These anatomical signposts, which I promise to keep simple, will help you understand the many new explanations for why Dummy Mute Woman Dating patients act the way they do.

If you snip away a section of brain, say, from the convoluted outer layer called the neocortex and peer at it under a mi­ croscope, you'll see that it is composed of neurons or nerve cells-the basic functional units Dummy Mute Woman Dating the nervous system, where information is ex­ changed. At birth, the typical brain probably contains over one hundred billion neurons, whose number slowly diminishes with age.

Each neuron has a cell body and tens of thousands of tiny branches Papilomavirus Cauta? i in om dendrites, which receive information from other neurons.

Each neuron also has a primary axon a projection that can travel long dis­ tances in the brain for sending data out of the cell, and axon terminals for communication with other cells. If you look at Figure l. Each neuron makes any­ where from a thousand to ten thousand synapses with other neurons.

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These can be either on or off, excitatory or inhibitory. That is, some synapses turn on the juice to fire things up, whereas others release juices that calm everything down, in an ongoing dance of staggering complex­ ity. A piece of your brain the size of a grain of sand would contain one hundred thousand neurons, two million axons and one billion synapses, all "talking to" each other. Given these figures, it's been calculated that the number of possible brain states-the number of permutations and Dummy Mute Woman Dating of activity that are theoretically possible-exceeds the number of elementary particles in the universe.

Notice the four lobes: frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital. The frontal is separated from the parietal by the central or rolandic sulcus furrow or fissureand the temporal from the parietal by the lateral or sylvian fissure. Notice the conspicuous corpus cal­ losum black and the thalamus white in the middle. The corpus callosum bridges the two hemispheres. Figure 1. Obviously, understanding the structure of the nervous system is vital to understand­ ing its functions5-and so I will begin with a brief survey of the anatomy of the brain, which, for our purposes here, begins at the top of the spinal cord.

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This region, called the medulla oblongata, connects the spinal cord to the brain and contains clusters of cells or nuclei that control critical functions like blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. The medulla con­ nects to the pons a kind of bulgewhich sends fibers into the cerebel­ lum, a fist-sized structure at the back of the brain that helps you carry out coordinated movements. Atop these are the two Dummy Mute Woman Dating cerebral hemispheres-the famous walnut-shaped halves of the brain.

Each half is divided into four lobes-frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital-that you will learn much more about in coming chapters Figure 1.

Each hemisphere controls the movements of the muscles for example, those in your arm and leg on the opposite side of your body. The two halves of the brain are connected by a band of fibers called the corpus callosum.

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When this band is cut, the two sides can no longer communicate; the result is a syndrome that offers insight into the role each side plays in cognition. The outer part of each hemi­ sphere is composed of matrimoniale femei cu nr de tel cortex: a thin, convoluted sheet of cells, six layers thick, that is scrunched into ridges and furrows like a cauliflower and packed densely inside the skull.

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Right in the center of the brain is the thalamus. It is thought to be evolutionarily more primitive than the cerebral cortex and is often de­ scribed as a "relay station" because all sensory information except smell passes through it before reaching the outer cortical mantle.

Interposed between the thalamus and the cortex are more nuclei, called basal ganglia with names like the putamen and caudate Dummy Mute Woman Dating. Finally, on the floor of the thalamus is the hypothalamus, which seems to be concerned with regulating metabolic functions, hormone production, and various basic drives such as aggression, fear, and sexuality.

These anatomical facts have been known for a long time, but we still have no clear idea of how the brain works.

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At one end of the spectrum are modularists, who believe that different parts of the brain are highly specialized for mental capacities. Thus there is a module for language, one for memory, one for math ability, one for face recognition and maybe even one for detecting people who cheat.

Moreover, they argue, these modules or regions are largely autonomous. Each does its own job, set of compu­ tations, or whatever, and then-like a bucket brigade-passes its output to the next module in line, not "talking" much to other regions.