Ahmad Alkadhim COMP 227 Minor Assignment #3 10/10/12 V. S. Ramachandran, in his TED talk entitled “Three Clues to Understanding Your Brain,” states that we can better understand and learn about the functions of our brain by studying patients who have suffered damage to a small region on their brain. The first example he uses to support his idea is the Capgras delusion. People who suffer from this syndrome don’t have any emotions when they see something of importance to them.

For example, when a normal person sees their mother, they would get some sort of emotional response but a person with Capgras delusion won’t get any response and even negate the fact that it is their mother. The cause of this is due to the fact that the connection between the visual areas and emotional centers is cut. His second example is his experiments with patients who have a syndrome called phantom limb and experience paralysis and pain in their phantom limb.

What he found out was the paralysis in his patients’ phantom limbs were actually learned because before the patients had their limbs amputated, their limbs were paralyzed and the brain was sending messages to move but it would get visually messages that the limb wasn’t moving; thus the learned paralysis would get carried over to the phantom limb. What he did to cure his patients’ from phantom limb and the paralysis was put a mirror reflecting their adjacent limb and told them to move it around.

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What this does is create a conflict between the vision sensory and the muscles signals, so the brain just ignores them both making the phantom limb and pain disappear. Then Ramachandran goes on to talk about synesthesia. Synesthesia is when a person hears a sound and associates a color to it or when a person sees a number and associates a color to it. He said this happens because the areas for color and the areas for sound are next to each other and they are wired together. He also stated all of us are born with everything in the brain wired to each other and that we are all synesthetes.

He proved this by showing how we relate shapes to sounds, the sharp sounds are related to the pointy and sharp shape and the flat sounds are related to the round shapes. I thought V. S. Ramachandran’s TED talk was very interesting and engaging. I liked how he took a very complicated and complex topic and presented it in a way that everyone with somewhat of an education can understand. He is also a good speaker because he not only made his presentation easy to understand but he also had humorous comments that made his presentation better. This video made me realize what an amazing organ the brain is.


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