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Phantoms In The Brain

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In this two-part documentary Professor Vilayanur Ramachandran investigates four neurological conditions, blind- sight, phantom limbs, anosognosia and hemispatial neglect. Ramachandran is able to express neurological/ psychological ideas in a way that is comprehensible to the layperson. The documentary is a great way to learn about the human brain and how it works, and people from all walks of life may find this very informative. In the first episode Dr Ramachandran explores how brain-damaged patients can still feel their amputated limbs long after surgery. The limb which is still felt by patients is called the Phantom Limb, as Ramachandran shows patients who suffer from this also can feel as though they are able to move it and often feel pain due to this urge, which cannot possibly be achieved, or can it? Derek who lost his arm in a motorcycle accident began to feel his amputated arm as soon as he woke up form surgery. ...read more.


The mirror box allows patients to believe that the phantom limb is carrying out the commands sent from the brain, even though in reality this is not the case. Professor Ramachandran also talks about Blind-sight. Graham had a road accident causing brain damage this has lead to him being blind but at the same time still being able to see. He cannot see objects on the right side unless they move as he can only detect the direction of which the object is moving. Ramachandran suggests that there are two pathways going from the eyeball to the brain, and therefore Graham is only using his unconscious blind-sight pathway as the visual path is damaged. Graham compares himself to a lizard as they also cannot see but manage to spot the movement of their food, this is very important for survival. Dr R compares blind-sight to driving a car as he explains we all use it and it allows us to stear our way through the world as if on auto-pilot, without consciously being aware. ...read more.


Philip has a problem with recognition, but there is nothing wrong with his vision. The damage is in his 'what' area of the brain making him unable to recognize what it is he is seeing, in this case what an animal is called. Professor Ramachandran states that this si due to damage in a small area of the tempiral lobes in the brain, and that different memory filters were destroyed, which also makes him unable to recognize faces, but can recognize voices. The Capgras delusion is similar to this David who suffers from this woke up from a coma one day and did not recognize his mother and father believing they are imposters. He even believed his own house was not his, but more extraordinary was him believing himself to be 'another David'. The professor explains how what we see causes emotion, and when David sees his mother no emotion is produced, as the message does not reach the emotion centres and only goes through the visual centres. All auditory centres are not effected by this The Phantom Limb by Dr Vilayanur Ramachandran 1 Gemma Barnes 08039678 ...read more.

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