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A description of three of the major discoveries in the field of psychology.

A description of three of the major discoveries in the field of psychology.

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Three Major Discoveries In Psychology Three Major Discoveries In Psychology Document Transcript

  • Three Major Discoveries in Psychology<br />Daniel Fishman<br />Fielding Graduate University<br />Three Major Discoveries in Psychology<br />Introduction<br />Psychology as a distinct field of philosophic and scientific inquiry is relatively new; however, the philosophical roots of psychology can be traced back thousands of years. Evidence of psychological observations, that is observations of people’s thoughts and behaviors, can be found in literary sources dating back to Sumeria, Mesopotamia, ancient India, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece and Rome ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"citationID":"21v5sodqb3","citationItems":[{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/UW5EMKQP"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/T7QRN2TZ"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/FQISA3RB"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/QTE6SWV5"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/C2ENAXUX"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/BKMUFR55"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/736XMT4M"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/RPHWMCRC"]}]} (Adamson & Taylor, 2005; Dollie, 1974; Fishman, 2009; Grim, 2009; Grubin, 2002; Kandel, Schwartz, & Jessell, 2000; Millon, 2004; Nasser, 1987). As with many disciplines, psychology has advanced in fits and starts, at times progressing rapidly while at others almost stagnating. Furthermore, although we often give final credit to one individual at a given time, most major advances take place over a period of time and among a group of individuals. The task of this paper is to present an opinion, the author’s, of the three greatest discoveries of psychology. Accepting the position that the true origins of psychology can be found in our ancient philosophical past, the enormity of identifying only three discoveries becomes apparent. In fact, naming any three discoveries as “the greatest three” might be a mistake. Each new discovery stands on the shoulders of those before it, few if any concepts prove to be true endpoints of discussion and research. Therefore, this paper will discuss three great discoveries, not the three greatest. In addition, one highly influential discovery that is not exclusive to psychology but has been vastly influential will be briefly mentioned.<br />Discovery One: The Brain as the Seat of Consciousness<br />One of the greatest discoveries of psychology is both ancient and ever evolving. For much of human history the essence of a person was thought to reside in their heart, while the brain was thought to be extraneous or to serve other functions. Throughout most of their history the ancient Egyptians (approximately 3500 BCE to 332 BCE) were considered the pinnacle of civilization. They possessed elaborate philosophies covering a wide range of subjects, based on which they established intricate ceremonies and practices. Moreover, as demonstrated by the monuments and papyri, they possessed the most advanced technical (scientific and medical) knowledge of their day. One of the better-known practices of the ancient Egyptians was that of embalming, the procedure whereby a person’s body was painstakingly preserved for the afterlife. Egyptians believed that the essence of an individual, their “Ba”, continued on after death and that the Ba required both sustenance, in the form of offerings, and shelter, in the form of the mummified corpse. During the mummification procedure all internal organs except the heart were carefully removed and preserved in specially designed clay jars. The brain was somewhat liquefied and extracted through sphenoid bone and nasal passageways and often discarded. In the ancient Egyptian afterlife the brain was not necessary, however, the heart was essential. The heart was thought to be the seat of the Ba during life. After death it was thought that the deceased’s heart was literally weighed against the weight of a feather. If the individual was worthy and had lived a righteous life the heart would be lighter than the feather and the person would gain entry to the afterlife. If not, the individual was judged evil, the heart literally weighed down by his/her misdeeds in life ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"citationID":"dhl63088b","citationItems":[{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/T7QRN2TZ"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/FQISA3RB"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/QTE6SWV5"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/C2ENAXUX"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/RPHWMCRC"]}]} (Dollie, 1974; Fishman, 2009; Grim, 2009; Grubin, 2002; Nasser, 1987). Interestingly, this is a metaphor we still use today. When we say a person “has a heavy heart” or is “heavy-hearted” we are referring to a psychological weight that has produced a very real somatic sensation felt in the chest near the heart. Often our psychological state is manifested by vague sensations within our chests with some, such as anxiety, underwritten by physical change (tachycardia), and others, such as heavy-hearted sadness, purely a psychological phenomenon. In either case, it is easy to see how the ancients without the modern technical capacity we have today could draw the conclusion that the heart is the seat of consciousness.<br />Remarkably, although cardiocentric philosophy predominated throughout ancient Egypt, there is some evidence that as early as 1550 BCE revisions had been made to incorporate some role for the brain. The Ebers and Edwin Smith papyri, authored circa 1550 BCE, contain references to the gross anatomy of the brain as well as a role in consciousness. It does not appear, however, that the ancient Egyptians ever fully discarded the notion of a cardiocentric mind. Still, when one considers that the rest of the developing world would not approach a brain theory of mind for almost another 1200 years this accomplishment becomes truly exceptional ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"citationID":"qbfvfld5g","citationItems":[{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/T7QRN2TZ"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/QTE6SWV5"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/RPHWMCRC"]}]} (Dollie, 1974; Grim, 2009; Nasser, 1987). <br />The ancient Egyptians were not the only culture to place the mind in the heart, most of the ancient world did so as well ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"citationID":"1rgea5bpgl","citationItems":[{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/T7QRN2TZ"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/FQISA3RB"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/QTE6SWV5"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/C2ENAXUX"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/736XMT4M"]}]} (Dollie, 1974; Fishman, 2009; Grim, 2009; Grubin, 2002; Millon, 2004). Complicating matters, most of the ancient world viewed autopsy as taboo; therefore, theoretical speculation based on empiric observations were confined to “happy accidents” wherein individuals were traumatically dismembered or disemboweled at death. Thus, most observations were made under less than ideal circumstances. It wasn’t until the golden age of ancient Greek philosophy that this association was even questioned. <br />Alcmaeon (557-491 B.C.E.) was the first to make written observations, based on anatomical dissections, that the brain was in fact the seat of consciousness ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"citationID":"28v1lt3phk","citationItems":[{"uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/C2ENAXUX"]}]} (Grubin, 2002). At the time this hypothesis was revolutionary, directly contradicting the accepted primacy of the heart in such matters. Alcmaeon did enjoy some support is the ensuing years. Hippocrates (460-367 B.C.E) argued that the brain was the seat of consciousness and, in part, supported this claim by citing the proximity of the senses to it (Gross, 1995). However, others such as Aristotle (384-322 BCE) disagreed.<br /> In 335 BCE Aristotle argued that the relative scarcity of flesh surrounding the brain combined with its convoluted nature make it an ideal radiator of the body’s heat. This fit well with the prevailing philosophy of the time based on the four humors, a philosophy also espoused by Hippocrates. In this construct the brain served the vital function of cooling the humors and in so doing contributed to overall well-functioning. Importantly, Aristotle claims that the organ of thought is not the basis of thought, which is the result of what he refers to as the rational soul. The rational soul is immaterial and cannot be localized in the body. This is the first recorded statement of a dualist philosophy of the mind. Furthermore, Aristotle correctly concludes that the processes of short and long term memory differ from one another ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"citationID":"s9ithgdr6","citationItems":[{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/FQISA3RB"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/QTE6SWV5"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/86KD5VQU"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/C2ENAXUX"]}]} (Fishman, 2009; Grim, 2009; Gross, 1995; Grubin, 2002). <br />In 300BCE Herophilus and Erasistratus, Alexandrian biologists, are the first to dissect the entire human body and perform comparative anatomical studies with other animals. They return to Alcmaeon's conclusion that the seat of cognition can be found in the brain and further state that within the brain this seat can be localized to the ventricles. Later, in 170 BCE Galen, a physician to Roman Gladiators, states his agreement with Herophilus and Erasistratus conception of the ventricles as the seat of cognition. In an effort to expand humoral philosophy, he also goes on to propose that the brain is a glandular organ responsible for the secretion of the humors. Galen believes that an individual's temperament and bodily functions are directly affected by the balance of these humors. His theory of bodily humors remained dominant for more than 1200 years (Fishman, 2009; Grubin, 2002).<br />The debate over the anatomic location of the mind persisted for over a millennia. It was not until the Renaissance, with its removal of taboos and burgeoning scientific methodology that systematic study of human anatomy began to shift the world toward the understanding of the brain as the seat of consciousness. The first challenge to Herophilus, Erasistratus and Galen arose in 1543 CE when Andreas Vesalius published one of the first known neuroscience textbooks. Vesalius disagreed with the conclusion that the ventricles were the seat of cognition based on his assertion that ventricles are structures shared across species and could therefore not be responsible for higher brain functions. Vesalius' challenge was followed almost 100 years later in 1649 by Rene Descartes who, drawing analogies to technological developments of the time, stated that the brain functions as a machine employing hydraulic motion. Descartes, thus, also supported a central role of the ventricles in mental events (Fishman, 2009; Grubin, 2002).<br />The shift from the ventricles as the seat of cognition was not fully realized until 1664 CE when an Oxford University professor, Thomas Willis, proposed that the cerebral hemispheres, which constitute 70% of the human brain, determine thought and action. Furthermore, Willis stated that these functions were separate from the part of the brain that controls basic motor functions. Additionally, Willis localized specific mental functions to several brain areas - the corpus callosum, corpus striatum, and the cerebellum. He also introduced the terms "neurology", "hemisphere", "lobe", "pyramid", "corpus striatum", and "peduncle" into the scientific vocabulary. Willis' work led future neuroscientists to examine other localization phenomena in the human brain and earned him the reputation as the initiator of the new science of the brain (Fishman, 2009; Grubin, 2002).<br />The exact nature of the mind-brain relationship has yet to be fully elucidated. As will be discussed shortly, it is currently an active area of empirical and theoretical research that has offered many of the most wide reaching discoveries in psychology. However, the realization that the mind is located in the brain was a first crucial step in truly understanding how our minds work, the ultimate goal of psychology.<br />Discovery Two: Internally Rather Than Supernaturally Based Pathology<br />In many ways the history of this discovery parallels the course of the heart-brain debate just discussed. Ancient societies often held that psychopathology was the result of possession by demonic entities, magic, curses from the gods or G-d, or any other of a number of supernatural origins. Such supernatural attributions afforded people a sense of order and control over a seemingly chaotic and random world. As with the first developments toward the brain as the seat of consciousness, the first advancement toward an internally based theory of psychopathology occurred circa 700 to 600 BCE in ancient Greece. This period saw the development of various internal theories of psychopathology such as humoral balance and corpuscular theories. Humoral balance as advocated by individuals such as Alcmaeon, Hippocrates, Aristotle, Herophilus and Erasistratus posited that pathology arose from an imbalance of one or more of the four essential humors - blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"citationID":"1j5pae70p2","citationItems":[{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/FQISA3RB"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/3JG7T26N"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/QTE6SWV5"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/86KD5VQU"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/C2ENAXUX"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/736XMT4M"]}]} (Fishman, 2009, 2010; Grim, 2009; Gross, 1995; Grubin, 2002; Millon, 2004). Corpuscular theory, as advanced by Asclepiades (171-110 BCE), suggested that the brain and nervous system were composed of corpuscles and canulicula. The canulicula could be constricted or dilated by emotions such as anger and fear or alternatively by toxic agents such as alcohol and opium. If the canuliculae became enlarged, corpuscles could separate and diffuse throughout the body, thus producing mental disease. Asclepiades went on to differentiate two major classes of mental disease: phrenitis and catatonia. The former resulted from a stricture of the meninges and displayed as delirium, agitation, and hallucinations. The latter constituted a rigid variant and was notable for muscle contraction and the absence of motor function all resulting from a stricture of all the atoms present in a body (Millon, 2004). During the classical period development in theories of psychopathology, and mental life in general, proceeded largely within either of these two theories; however, emphasis was also increasingly placed on rational exploration of mental states.<br />Physician-philosophers in the classical period increasingly placed emphasis on the rational redress of mental illness. Socrates (470-399 BCE), one of the greatest Western philosophers, began his conceptualization of mental illness with the idea that pathology was driven by "inner demons." However, he also emphasized that one could achieve purification from these inner demons by rational exploration of the self in an effort to acquire self-knowledge. Hippocrates advocated dream interpretation as a window into mental processes. Plato (429-347) advocated correction of maladaptive thought through rational argument, as did Cicero (103-43 BCE). Although he did not specifically suggest rational exploration of mental illness, Asclepiades ardently advocated for naturalistic diagnosis and humane treatment (Millon, 2004).<br /> Unfortunately, not long after this exploration began, in the early part of the first millennium CE, the majority of the Western world fell back into supernatural explanations of psychopathology. Although portions of the Middle East and Far East maintained Hippocratic and Galenistic humoral views, Western society fell under the influence of the nascent and conservative Christian church. Individuals, such as Aurelius Augustine, led the church in reframing mental illness once again originating from supernatural sources ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"citationID":"v6p6den63","citationItems":[{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/QTE6SWV5"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/736XMT4M"]}]} (Grim, 2009; Millon, 2004). Life in medieval times was difficult, the populations of cities grew along with the growth came famine and disease. Individuals with mental illness serve as reminders of our own frailty, and, as such, can inspire fear and animosity in people. Stressful situations have been known to exacerbate this effect. Keeping these tendencies in mind it is easy to see why a society with comparatively little technical understanding of the world around it would embrace religious doctrine that offered them control over themselves and their environment. If individuals develop mental illness secondary to demonic possession or curses from an ever loving G-d, they must have either possessed a kernel of evil within themselves which allowed the demon entry or incurred the wrath of G-d. This philosophy offered people a means to ensure that they did not fall victim to the illnesses they witnessed. Owing to societal and cultural restrictions on research of any kind not approved by the church this philosophy remained dominant for almost 1200 years.<br />The 15th century and the Renaissance brought about new opportunities for philosophical exploration as well as significant advancements in technical knowledge and methodology. Released from the strictures of the Middle Ages, knowledge and exploration proceeded apace and in fact accelerated rapidly in subsequent centuries. A complete discussion of the evolution of theories of mental states and illness is beyond the scope of this paper. The key discovery highlighted here is the rational, methodical, and empirical exploration of mental states and illness. This endeavor which began in the classical period, experienced an unfortunate setback during the Middle Ages, but returned in force during the last 500 years. Great strides have been made in understanding internal mental states and processes, none of which could have been accomplished had we not remembered that these arise with in us and not from without.<br />Discovery Two and a Half: The Scientific method<br />At this point it is important to note the impact of a discovery not solely belonging to psychology. Similar to other major discoveries, although its roots can be traced back millennia, the introduction of the scientific method is credited to the 16th century and individuals, such as Telesius, Tommaso Campanella, Giordano Bruno, Francis Bacon, and Rene Descartes ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"citationID":"lsi87tp7g","citationItems":[{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/QTE6SWV5"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/HXTNUB4T"]}]} (Grim, 2009; Robinson, 1997). It is difficult to overstate the effects of this discovery on almost every aspect of intellectual inquisition as well as daily life. The field of psychology cannot lay claim to this discovery as it truly cannot be claimed by any one discipline. However, as with most other disciplines, the scientific method fundamentally shaped the field of psychology. It has provided a rational means of intellectual inquiry as well as an ordered and methodic mode of investigation. The scientific method has allowed us to draw significant conclusions and abstractions that form the very basis of most major theories of psychology. It is not solely psychology’s discovery, but psychology would not be what it is today without it.<br />Discovery Three: Cognitive Neuroscience<br />In many respects the field of neuroscience was opened by Thomas Willis. His anatomic studies paved the way for future generations of neuroanatomists and neuroscientists. However, the field of cognitive neuroscience must be seen as the child of multiple disciplines. The fields of philosophy, neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, psychology, neurology, psychiatry and computer science have all contributed to the development of cognitive neuroscience. In return, cognitive neuroscience has begun to elucidate the multifaceted and complex procedures and physiologies underlying mental states and processes. Moreover, for the first time we have begun to understand and address debilitating pathologies that in many cases have resisted prior attempts at treatment.<br />The philosophical underpinnings of cognitive neuroscience can be found in the works of many individuals. Cognitive neuroscience posits a mechanistic, connectionistic, process oriented theory of mind. The first philosopher to fully articulate a mechanistic view of the brain was René Descartes. Although Descartes espoused a dualistic theory of mind he also posited that the brain functioned as an elaborate machine. In fact Descartes was one of the first to wonder if we could ever construct a machine that would so closely approximate the characteristics of the human mind that one could not tell the difference. In addition to this mechanistic view, Descartes famously stated, "I think therefore I am", thus emphasizing the importance of cognition. Remarkably, the method Descartes utilized in determining this axiom draws attention to a phenomenon that has plagued philosophy for centuries and is also an area where cognitive neuroscience has provided valuable insight. Similar to many philosophers before him, Descartes did not trust his perceptions and as recent research has demonstrated he was wise to remain skeptical. Research conducted on perception, first in the field of cognitive psychology and now within cognitive neuroscience, has demonstrated numerous biases that regularly affect our perception ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"citationID":"1tca9ehbg6","citationItems":[{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/CV6KH26Z"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/3JG7T26N"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/QTE6SWV5"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/BKMUFR55"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/25NN5EIJ"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/736XMT4M"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/HXTNUB4T"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/M2W4P7K3"]}]} (Doidge, 2007; Fishman, 2010; Grim, 2009; Kandel et al., 2000; E. F. Loftus, 2005; Millon, 2004; Robinson, 1997; Spector & Maurer, 2009).<br />Although Willis was the first and a pioneer in the field of neuroanatomy, countless others have brought us to where we are today. As is true for all the disciplines that have contributed to our understanding of mental processes, the individuals involved from the disciplines of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology are too numerous to be described fully here. Therefore, in keeping with Willis’ pioneering spirit we will discuss a few of the individuals whose contributions also blazed new trails. Luigi Galvani (1737-1798) discovered that living nervous and muscular tissue produced and conducted electricity. Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828) is credited with helping to form the neuron doctrine. Additionally, he proposed three new ideas: 1) all behavior emanated from the brain, 2) particular regions of the cerebral cortex controlled specific functions - Gall identified at least 35 divisions within the brain each corresponding to a specific mental faculty and 3) the cortical center for each function grew with use. Each of these three proposals has now been demonstrated to be true. Unfortunately, Gall’s original conceptualization of his third proposal involved the physical growth of cortical regions on a macroscopic level. This interpretation led Gall to the science of phrenology which has now been widely discredited. However, it is now accepted that although macroscopic changes are not observed, the area and overall size of cortical areas within the brain are determined in part by use. Camillo Golgi (1843-1926) developed a silver staining technique which for the first time allowed the visualization of a neuron’s dendrites, cell body, and axon. Ramon y Cajal (1852-1934) was able to refine Golgi’s technique to sustain individual neurons. In so doing, was able to establish that nervous tissue was not a continuous web but comprised of individual cells. Furthermore, collaborating with several other individuals such as Carl Wernicke (1804-1904), and Charles Sherrington (1857-1952), Cajal helped to formulate the theory of cellular connectionism. According to this view, individual neurons are the signaling units of the brain and are generally arranged in functional groups that connect to one another in a specific fashion. Wernicke’s own work was essential in demonstrating that specific behaviors are produced by specific brain regions and that these regions are interconnected by neural pathways. Paul Broca (1824-1880) greatly expanded this work in localization theory firmly establishing its place. Finally, Claude Bernard (1838-1878), Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915), and John Langley (1852-1925) demonstrated that chemicals do not interact with cells arbitrarily, but rather bind to specific receptors typically located in the cellular membrane ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"citationID":"nvsmt12hq","citationItems":[{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/BKMUFR55"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/736XMT4M"]}]} (Kandel et al., 2000; Millon, 2004). Collectively, all these individuals and more have helped to usher in a new dynamic understanding of the physiology of the brain and how it can relate to mental states. Their work has facilitated aspects of understanding and treatment for myriad disorders from cerebral tumors to psychosis and mood disorders.<br />Psychology and cognitive neuroscience are fields with ongoing reciprocal interaction, each advancing the other. Whereas the fields of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology attempt to discern the workings of the mind in a bottom-up approach examining the microscopic to help explain the macroscopic, psychology begins at the level of gross observation, which is available to the naked senses. Here we are able to observe phenomena such as perceptive biases or memory fallacies and then construct a theoretical explanatory framework. Psychologists such as Elizabeth Loftus have provided invaluable insight into the everyday biases and fallacies of which we are all subject ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"citationID":"2pejamjv0n","citationItems":[{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/ZMD83C8Z"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/25NN5EIJ"]},{"label":"page","uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/23J9C7XV"]}]} (Harley, Carlsen, & Loftus, 2004; Loftus, 2005). Only by gaining an understanding of how we are affected by such biases can we ever hope to overcome them. In recent times this work has been extended through the use of functional imaging to examine underlying physiology. These studies have led to the development of a narrow plastic theory of the brain that envisions the brain is ever-changing in response to the organism’s behavior and environment. Our brain's inherent capacity to change in response to environmental stimuli and behavior offers amazing opportunity for the successful treatment of a variety of disorders. For example, Vilayanur Ramachandran has made a discovery remarkable for both its efficacy and simplicity. Ramachandran sought to help individuals afflicted with the extremely debilitating condition known as phantom limb pain. He reasoned that present with in our brains is a cognitive proprioceptive map of our bodies and that this map is constantly updated by afferent signals from the periphery. In the event of the loss of a limb these afferent signals stop, without new input the brain concludes that the limb has not moved. Ramachandran observed that extended periods of non-movement in healthy individuals often resulted in pain, a mild form presenting as the classic sensation of a limb falling asleep. This led him to wonder if he could somehow "tell" the brain of an individual with phantom limb pain that in fact the afflicted limb had moved. Utilizing only some wood and a mirror Ramachandran built a mirror box within which a healthy individual could place their limb and move about freely. He reasoned that absent proprioceptive input the individual’s brain would see the mirrored reflection and infer that the missing limb was simply damaged, but still mobile. Therefore, if the pain was simply the result of an inference on the part of the brain secondary to lack of perceived movement, the pain would dissipate. Astonishingly, this is precisely what happened. In many individuals Ramachandran is able to successfully remove debilitating pain that has grown resistant to all other intervention with this simple and cheap behavioral intervention - truly amazing ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"citationID":"1qaptolc0b","citationItems":[{"uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/CV6KH26Z"]}]} (Doidge, 2007; Ramachandran & Rogers-Ramachandran, 2000).<br />It is clear that the field of cognitive neuroscience offers hope to many individuals; however, we have yet to discuss one of the most tantalizing aspects that it offers. Alan Turing (1912-1954) was a British mathematician and, at the time, the first in over 100 years to propose a computational machine. His theories and work in the first half of the twentieth century provided the basis for modern day computer technology as well as artificial intelligence (AI) research ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"citationID":"12rsigchrl","citationItems":[{"uri":["http://zotero.org/users/178241/items/QTE6SWV5"]}]} (Grim, 2009). The manifold ways computers have affected our lives is readily evident, however, the benefits of AI research are not as readily appreciated. Work in AI has broadened our understanding of how our brains process sensory input and information, and in so doing helped to generate a new theory of mental processes along a connectionist philosophy known as neural networking or wet mind. Wet mind theory offers hope into understanding many disorders such as agnosias, aphasias, perceptual biases, and memory disorders, but perhaps one of its most fascinating potentials is the ability to address the origin and functioning of consciousness in a concrete manner. A truly explanatory framework for consciousness promises the ability to better understand complex mental functions and states such as the formation of personality both normal and aberrant. Additionally, it offers the prospect of artificially supporting, accentuating, or extending consciousness: an area both exciting and frightening. It may sound fanciful but increasingly scientists, futurists, and philosophers are pondering the possibilities of what has become known as singularity – the merging of human thought with machine. To listen to some speak, it is more a question of when, not if this will happen. Reserving judgment on the merits of such endeavors, this final discovery has the potential to alter the very nature of what it means to be human.<br />References<br />Adamson, P., & Taylor, R. C. (2005). The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy. Cambridge University Press.<br />Doidge, N. (2007). The brain that changes itself: Stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science. New York, NY, US: Penguin (Non-Classics).<br />Dollie, F. (1974). Psychiatric concepts in ancient Egyptian, Greco-Roman and Arabic civilizations. Le Journal Médical Libanais. The Lebanese Medical Journal, 27(5), 523-530.<br />Fishman, D. (2009). Review of Selected Topics in the Field of Neuroplasticity. 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