SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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layers. In such a case, the activity of our human nervous system would correspond to the activity of the less-developed nervous systems of animals which have no cortex at all. It must be remembered, also, that the sub-cortical layers which have a cortex, as in man, are quite different from corresponding layers of those animals which have never developed a cor' tex. It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that survival values are sharply characterized by adequacy, and that animals without cortex have nervous systems adequate for their needs under their special conditions; otherwise, they would not have survived. This applies, also, to those animals who have a cortex. Their activities for survival depend on this cortex; and when the cortex is removed, their activities become inadequate. Their sub-cortical layers alone are not adequate to insure survival. For survival, such animals must use not only their lower centres and their sub-cortical layers, but also their cortices.
Among animals, as all evidence shows, the enormous majority have, without human interference, nervous systems working usually in the 'normal' way; that is, according to the survival structure. 'Insanity' and kindred nervous disturbances are known only among ourselves (however, see Part VI). Apparently, the cortex, through its enormous internal complexity, which provides many more pathways, and through its complex interconnections, which offer many more possibilities, with a greater number of degrees of 'inhibition', of excitability, of delayed action, of activation., introduces not only a much greater flexibility of reaction, but, through this flexibility, a possibility for abuse, for reversal of manifestations, and so for a deterioration of the survival activity of the nervous system as-a-whole. The sub-cortical layers and other parts of the brain of man are different from the corresponding parts of the animal brain, which has a less-developed cortex. The nervous system works as-a-whole, and the anatomical homology of the parts of different nervous systems is a very inadequate, perhaps even a misguiding, foundation for inferring a priori the functioning of these systems, which ultimately depend not only on the macroscopic but also on the microscopic and sub-microscopic structures. For instance, we can cut off the head of some insects, and they go along quite happily and do not seem to mind the operation much. But we could not repeat this with higher animals. The behaviour is changed. A decorticated pigeon behaves differently from a decorticated rat, though neither of them seems affected greatly by the operation. A decorticated dog or ape is affected much more. Man is entirely changed. None of the higher types is able to survive long if decorticated.
There is on record the medical history, reported by Edinger and Fischer, of a boy who was born entirely without cerebral cortex. There