Friday, November 02, 2012

The Brainy Brainstem

Ginger Campbell has just released her 90th Brain Science Podcast, "Review of "Self Comes to Mind" by Antonio Damasio." It's a very good review of the book; all the way though she highlights certain pages. She sticks mostly to the neurobiological aspects as opposed to the philosophical. Damasio's thesis is that the brainstem contains all the initiators of sense of self, emotions and feelings. 

Just by coincidence, yesterday I found this video (and transcript), at Big Think blog: What is consciousness

Also by coincidence, today, I ran across this news item in google reader - Heartbreak for parents as boy born without a brain dies after three-year 'miracle life
Excerpt:"Nickolas Coke suffered from a rare condition known as anencephaly, meaning he was born with only a brain stem."
Well, there are different severities of this condition, and sometimes brainstems aren't present either. The condition itself is a neural tube defect, in which sometimes only some bits of spinal cord don't close or are missing. When it's part or all of the brain missing, then it's called anencephaly. It sounds like this little guy, having had a brainstem, and a head that had closed over it, was able to live for a time at least, and interact some with his parents.

Further reading:

Antonio Damasio, Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious BrainPantheon; 1 edition (November 9, 2010)

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