Robert Marks and Andrew Knox continue their conversation on neurology, epilepsy, and mental illness. In this episode, they focus on the medications and practices that can help restore proper brain function, from antidepressants to forms of surgery to Elon Musk’s potential “Neuralink.” Additional Resources
To map regions of the brain to specific genes, researchers at the University of California – San Diego did genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of the regional cortical surface area and thickness of 39,898 adults and 9,136 children. That is, they scanned complete sets of DNA (genomes), looking for genetic variations. They were especially interested in variations that might be associated with a problem like autism, epilepsy, or dementia. By and large, construction of the human brain is determined by heredity, though factors like environmental exposures also play a role, particularly during sensitive periods of neurodevelopment during childhood. Large-scale MRI and genetic datasets have increasingly illuminated the common genetic variants that help build the human cerebral cortex — the outer, layered Read More ›
Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor did a recent podcast with Arjuna Das at Theology Unleashed, “where Eastern theology meets Western skepticism.” In the previous segment, they discussed the way in which people’s minds sometimes become much clearer near death (terminal lucidity). Dr. Egnor suggested that that may demonstrate that the brain constrains the mind (rather than creating it). In this segment, they look at objections raised to the view that epilepsy provides evidence for the mind as not merely a function of the brain. Dr. Egnor begins by focusing on the work of Wilder Penfield, the founder of epilepsy surgeries, who worked in Montreal in the mid-twentieth century, “a wonderful scientist, one of the best scientists that neurosurgery has produced”: Here is Read More ›
In the recent debate between neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and philosopher David Papineau, “Atheist Philosopher and Christian Neurosurgeon Debate Materialism” at Theology Unleashed, there was sort of digression at 49:30 on the nature of thought. Dr. Egnor talks about what he learned from his experiences with treating epilepsy and Dr. Papineau responds. Note: Dr. Papineau is a “physicalist.” On that view, “the mind is a purely physical construct, and will eventually be explained entirely by physical theory, as it continues to evolve.” (Philosophy basics) He is considered to be one of the best defenders of naturalism (nature is all there is), often called “materialism.” Michael Egnor: There are three metaphysical questions that I think can be answered in an inferential way, Read More ›
Most neuroscience studies on live neurons depend on animal neurons. But a group of researchers in Canada got the opportunity to study live neurons from 66 human donors undergoing brain surgery for epilepsy and tumors. So they had a chance to compare human with rodent neurons: “The goal of this study was to understand what makes human brain cells ‘human,’ and how human neuron circuitry functions as it does,” says Dr. Taufik Valiante, neurosurgeon, scientist at the Krembil Brain Institute at UHN and co-senior author on the paper. University Health Network, “Researchers Identify Unique Characteristics of Human Neurons” at Neuroscience News (May 3, 2021) Looking specifically at live human cortical pyramidal cells, they found “notable and unexpected differences between their Read More ›
In his classic book, Mystery of the Mind, (1975) epilepsy surgery pioneer Dr. Wilder Penfield, asked a significant question: “Why are there no intellectual seizures?” Epileptic seizures can be experienced in a variety of ways—convulsions of the whole body, slight twitching of a muscle, compulsive memories, emotions, perceptions of smells or flashes of light, complex motor behaviors such as chewing or laughing or even walking, or subtle moments of inattention. But seizures never have intellectual content. There are no intellectual seizures, which is odd, given that large regions of the brain are presumed by neuroscientists to serve intellectual thought. It is all the more remarkable when we consider that seizures commonly originate in these “intellectual” areas of the brain. Yet Read More ›
Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne seems obsessed with denying free will. In a recent post on his blog, Why Evolution Is True, he supported the claim of theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder that we do not have free will: If you’ve read this site, you’ll know that my own views are pretty much the same as hers, at least about free will. We don’t have it, and the fundamental indeterminacy of quantum mechanics doesn’t give it to us either. Hossenfelder doesn’t pull any punches: “This means in a nutshell that the whole story of the universe in every single detail was determined already at the big bang. We are just watching it play out.”… QED! Jerry Coyne, “Sabine Hossenfelder says we don’t Read More ›
Michael Egnor points out that Penfield offered three lines of evidence: His inability to stimulate intellectual thought during brain operations, the inability of seizures to cause intellectual thought, and his inability to stimulate the will. … So he concluded that the intellect and the will are not from the brain. Which is precisely what Aristotle said.
Patients after split-brain surgery are not split people. They feel the same, act the same, and think the same, for all intents and purposes. Materialists like Jerry Coyne focus on subtle differences and distort the big picture.
I assert that intellectual seizures do not exist. Dr. Ali asserts that they do exist and that they do not. The difference between their existence and their non-existence seems to be Dr. Ali’s rhetorical needs of the moment.
It’s worth noting that Wilder Penfield, (with Herbert Jasper, his neurologist colleague), was one of the first doctors to characterize forced thinking seizures and he asserted that there are no intellectual seizures. He understood that forced thinking seizures are not seizures of the intellect. Read More ›
When pundits talk glibly of creating artificial minds or claim that consciousness is an illusion, it might help to remember that few predicted cases like this could exist and few thought that high tech diagnostics would lead to their discovery. Read More ›