Health-Healing Psychological-Sexual Mind and Motion and Monism

Mind and Motion and Monism

Mind and Motion and Monism
Catalog # SKU3754
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name George John Romanes
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Mind and
Motion and Monism

George John Romanes

That the grey matter of the cerebral hemispheres is the exclusive seat of mind is proved in two ways. In the first place, if we look to the animal kingdom as a whole, we find that, speaking generally, the intelligence of species varies with the mass of this grey matter. Or, in other words, we find that the process of mental evolution, on its physical side, has consisted in the progressive development of this grey matter superimposed upon the pre-existing nervous machinery, until it has attained its latest and maximum growth in man.

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If the grey matter of only one hemisphere be removed, the mind is taken away from the corresponding (i. e. the opposite) side of the body, while it remains intact on the other side. For example, if a dog be deprived of one hemisphere, the eye which was supplied from it with nerve-fibres continues able to see, or to transmit impressions to the lower nerve-centre called the optic ganglion; for this eye will then mechanically follow the hand waved in front of it. But if the hand should hold a piece of meat, the dog will show no mental recognition of the meat, which of course it will immediately seize if exposed to the view of its other eye. The same thing is found to happen in the case of birds: on the injured side sensation, or the power of responding to a stimulus, remains intact; while perception, or the power of mental recognition, is destroyed.

This description applies to the grey matter of the cerebral hemispheres as a whole. But of course the question next arises whether it only acts as a whole, or whether there is any localization of different intellectual faculties in different parts of it. Now, in answer to this question, it has long been known that the faculty of speech is definitely localized in a part of the grey matter lying just behind the forehead; for, when this part is injured, a man loses all power of expressing even the most simple ideas in words, while the ideas themselves remain as clear as ever. It is remarkable that in each individual only this part of one hemisphere appears to be used; and there is some evidence to show that left-handed persons use the opposite side from right-handed. Moreover, when the side which is habitually in use is destroyed, the corresponding part of the other hemisphere begins to learn its work, so that the patient may in time recover his use of language.

Within the last few years the important discovery has been made, that by stimulating with electricity the surface of the grey matter of the hemispheres, muscular movements are evoked; and that certain patches of the grey matter, when thus stimulated, always throw into action the same groups of muscles. In other words, there are definite local areas of grey matter, which, when stimulated, throw into action definite groups of muscles. The surface of the cerebral hemispheres has now been in large measure explored and mapped out with reference to these so-called motor-centres; and thus our knowledge of the neuro-muscular machinery of the higher animals (including man) has been very greatly furthered.

Here I may observe parenthetically that, as the brain is insentient to injuries inflicted upon its own substance, none of the experiments to which I have alluded entail any suffering to the animals experimented upon; and it is evident that the important information which has thus been gained could not have been gained by any other method.

I may also observe that as these motor-centres occur in the grey matter of the hemispheres, a strong probability arises that they are not only the motor-centres, but also the volitional centres which originate the intellectual commands for the contraction of this and that group of muscles. Unfortunately we cannot interrogate an animal whether, when we stimulate a motor-centre, we arouse in the animal's mind an act of will to throw the corresponding group of muscles into action; but that these motor-centres are really centres of volition is pointed to by the fact, that electrical stimuli have no longer any effect upon them when the mental faculties of the animal are suspended by anæsthetics, nor in the case of young animals where the mental faculties have not yet been sufficiently developed to admit of voluntary co-ordination among the muscles which are concerned. On the whole, then, it is not improbable that on stimulating artificially these motor-centres of the brain, a physiologist is actually playing from without, and at his own pleasure, upon the volitions of the animal.

Turning, now, from this brief description of the structure and leading functions of the principal parts of the nervous system, I propose to consider what we know about the molecular movements which go on in different parts of this system, and which are concerned in all the processes of reflex adjustment, sensation, perception, emotion, instinct, thought, and volition.

First of all, the rate at which these molecular movements travel through a nerve has been measured, and found to be about 100 feet per second, or somewhat more than a mile a minute, in the nerves of a frog. In the nerves of a mammal it is just about twice as fast; so that if London were connected with New York by means of a mammalian nerve instead of an electric cable, it would require nearly a whole day for a message to pass.

192 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover

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