– This program is presented by University of California Television Like what you learn? Visit our website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest UCTV programs (upbeat music) – Thank you for coming this afternoon My name is Paula Varsano and I’m a professor of East Asian languages and cultures and the chair of the Foerster Lectures Committee We, along with the graduate council, are very, very happy to present V.S. Ramachandran, this year’s speaker in the Foerster Lecture Series I’m also very pleased to tell you a bit about how the endowment supporting the Foerster lectures on the immortality of the soul came to UC Berkeley It’s actually a story that really exemplifies the ways in which this campus is linked to the history of California and in particular to the Bay Area In 1928, Miss Edith Zweybruck established the Foerster Lectureship to honor the memory of Agnes A. Foerster and her husband, Constantine E. Foerster Edith was a public school teacher for many years in San Francisco And the teaching profession, in her eyes, was the perfect opportunity to develop a true knowledge and love of the spiritual values of life in the young minds entrusted to her care Edith’s beloved sister, Agnes A. Foerster shared her high ideals and her hopes, as did Agnes’ husband, Constantine A lawyer by profession, he was a man of high intellectual achievements and of rare personal charm Although he passed away at the age of 37, he had achieved an enviable place at the San Francisco Bar as one of its most highly respected members For several years prior to his death, Foerster was a law partner of none other than Alexander F. Morrison, one of the most prominent of San Francisco attorneys, for whom our Morrison Memorial Library is named In her last days, Miss Edith Zweybruck expressed her deep and abiding interest in the spiritual life by creating this lecture series on the subject of the immortality of the soul She believed that through the medium of great universities and the words of scholarly lecturers she might shed new light upon a subject that has interested the world for centuries So we have to thank Edith Zweybruck And now about our lecturer Sometimes the best way to characterize a person is to consider what kinds of questions he or she likes to ask And here’s a question that is always being asked in various ways by our speaker And I quote him here How can a three pound mass of jelly that you can hold in the palm of your hand imagine angels, contemplate the meaning of infinity, and even question its own place in the cosmos? Now, what kind of person can ask this question in a way that doesn’t sound rhetorical? Poets can do that And Doctor V.S. Ramachandran is, indeed, a poet of sorts Officially, however, he serves as the director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and is a distinguished professor at the University of California, San Diego, as well as an adjunct professor of biology at the Salk Institute He has also been called the Marco Polo of neuroscience by Richard Dawkins, and the modern Paul Brokaw by Eric Kendau But as pithily impressive as these titles and these epithets may be, they actually do very, very little to reveal the mind-teasing pathway he has followed and on which he leads us in the work that he does, and in the contributions that he makes Doctor Ramachandran is renowned for his ongoing inquiry into the field of cognitive neuroscience that is the intersection of neurology and perceptual psychology To steal a few words from the title of one of his books, he is actually a neuroscientist on a quest

for what makes us human Building on his early work on visual perception, Ramachandran has led pioneering experiments in behavioral neurology, taking cues from malfunctions in perception, including phantom limbs, synesthesia, and xenomelia, to delve into the unique ways in which the human brain forms and deforms the workings of mind Laypeople are perhaps most familiar with his controversial assertion of mirror neurons as playing a central role in the unique evolution of humans His approach to neurology has been to revisit classic syndromes, bring them to the lab, determine their broader significance, and devise new treatments where possible Of course, Ramachandran, many of you know, is a very prolific author, and he’s published over 180 papers in scientific journals, five of which were invited review articles for Scientific American He’s the co-author with Sandra Blakely of “Phantoms in the Brain, 1999,” which has been translated into nine languages, and formed the basis for a PBS special His BBC Reith lectures were published in 2003 in a volume titled “The Emerging Mind,” and were dubbed by the Nobel Laureate David Hubel as bold, irreverent, original, and ingenious His latest book, a New York Times bestseller, is “The Telltale Brain.” After training as a physician in Stanley Medical College in Madras, India, Ramachandran attained a PhD from Trinity College and the University of Cambridge He’s an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, London, and the recipient of two honorary doctorates Ramachandran has received many accolades throughout his career He was awarded the Henry Dale Medal in 2005 and was elected to an honorary life membership to the Royal Institution of Great Britain The president of India conferred on him the highest honorific title in India, Padma Bhushan, in 2007 And besides the BBC Reith lectures he delivered in the UK, he also gave the Gifford Lectures in Scotland Time Magazine named him one of the most influential people in the world in their 2011 Time 100 Finally, before I cede the stage to Doctor Ramachandran, I would like to leave you with a few words by Ted Cruiser, US Poet Laureate from 2004 to 2006, who also asks what makes us human He words it differently though, and much more mournfully than our speaker does Here we will not find the mind’s brain imagining angels or contemplating the meaning of infinity In the closing lines of Cruiser’s poem “In the Hall of Bones,” after cataloging the array of skeletons that he found in what seems to be a natural history museum, he writes these words: “And then, here’s man, “all matchsticks, wooden spoons, “and tongue depressors, wired together “A rack supporting a leaky jug of lust and worry “Of all the skeletons assembled here, “this is the only one in which once throbbed a heart “made sad by brooding on its shadow.” It’s my pleasure to welcome Doctor Ramachandran to Berkeley (audience applauding) – Well thank you for that amazing introduction I’m delighted to be here and honored to be invited by the committee to do this lecture, Foerster Lecture When the committee first phoned me up about this and said I was to talk about the soul, the immortality of the soul, I said, “Well, that’s easy, I’m happy to do it.” (audience laughing) And then I did a double take and I realized what I was getting into But then fortunately they reassured me that in fact, it doesn’t have to be anything directly related to the soul, but so long as it’s tangentially relevant, which means essentially all phenomena in the universe So I’m gonna approach the problem of the soul not so much the soul but the self It’s after all the immortality of the self that we’re all concerned about We call it the soul And I’m gonna use two approaches Mainly one approach, but I’m not gonna deal with the metaphysical question of soul, which is extensively dealt with in Indian philosophy and in Western philosophy as well But if you sort of pause and introspect on the self, there are many attributes, it’s kind of common sense,

but roughly speaking, there’s embodiment One of the most obvious aspects of the self is, it’s you’re anchored in one body I’m not anchored in Tony’s body, I’m right here But we’ll call that into question in a minute Then there’s a sense of continuity in space and time You all have a calendar Sense of agency Sort of like the free will Sense of unity and coherence, despite a diversity of sense impressions and memories over a lifetime You feel like one person I’m one guy, one name, one bank account, one spouse, so on and so forth And a sense of privacy and individuality And then finally, most mysterious of all, self awareness Self is not aware of its self Sort of like an oxymoron There’s a curious, recursive quality to it which is hard to come to grips with I’m not gonna talk about all the attributes of the self That would take a whole week But let’s talk about embodiment and partly about privacy And from the point of view, cognitive neuroscience and neurology And the way we deal with this, the way we study this, is by looking at patients We can do brain imaging, it’s one thing we do, but mainly we do behavioral, old-fashioned, 19th century behavioral neurology We look at patients who have sustained an injury or a change in a small part of the brain, and then producing characteristic changes in their behavior and trying to correlate structure and function, trying to explain the changes in behavior in terms of the anatomical organization of the normal human brain To give you some insight into the question of what’s mediating that particular function So let me begin with a bang and talk about a syndrome which few people even heard of It’s called xenomelia Xenomelia is the name we gave it, but it’s also known as apotemnophilia, unpronounceable name but apotemnophilia These are first patients I’ll mention one example, second example of it, dean of an engineering school who came to see me at the age of 70, had just retired at 70 years old, and he had harbored, through his entire life, he’d harbored a secret urge, as he described it, to amputate his own healthy arm Going back as far back in childhood as he can remember He’s a perfectly normal guy in every respect, not obviously psychotic or depressed or mentally disturbed, no neurological findings, completely normal, led a normal family life, had friends, had a job as a dean Everything seemed normal, except for this one particularity that he had this urge And by then I discovered that many of these people, it’s not that rare It is rare, but not that rare And about one third of them to half of them go and get it amputated This is not some mild obsession these people have There’s few serious clinical consequences, the loss of the limb So then I said, “Why did you come to see me? “Do you want us to treat you or cure you?” He said, “No, I enjoy it, I don’t wanna be cured “I want you to remove the arm, give me a letter “so I can go get it removed “And I can’t do it here in this country “I’ll go to Mexico, across the border, “it’s legal to get a healthy limb amputated.” I’m not making this up, this is what he said Later I checked on this and it’s true: you can get it amputated in Mexico and in Canada, but you can’t do it here So many patients travel north or south to get it amputated And what would cause this? The first thing (mumbles) is, one of the things you learn in clinical medicine is first talk to the guy You know, 90% of the time you figure out what’s going on in his brain by just talking to him You don’t need to do brain imaging, you don’t need to do even clinical testing I said, “Do you feel like this arm doesn’t belong to you?” He said, “No, no it’s the opposite “It feels like it over belongs to me “It’s intrusive “It’s intruding itself on me “And I want it removed.” I said, “Okay,” and I started thinking about this And I said, maybe what’s gone wrong is you look at the surface of the brain, that’s the somatosensory cortex, so there’s one, it’s called the Penfield map of the body surface And the entire surface of the body, the body skin surface is mapped onto the post sympathizer There’s a vertical cleft going down the side of the brain called the central surface Behind that cleft there’s a vertical strip of cortex, it’s shown in brown there So that’d be the left hemisphere, if you were going to touch my right side, closer to that is on the left hemisphere There’s a complete map of the body’s surface on that post-central gyrus there That map is shown in the next slide Many of you may have seen this before It’s got some peculiar features which I will come back to But I said, well maybe in this guy, it was a very naive, phrenological hunch, maybe in this guy that part of the brain is missing The hand is not there You don’t know how much of this map is present, the scaffolding is present at birth, and how much of it is shaped by experience And I’m gonna talk about that in a few minutes But for now, let’s assume it’s hardwired, partly Maybe it’s congenitally missing the arm, and that’s why he feels it’s alien or it doesn’t belong to him So we did the obvious experiment of galvanic skin response, poked him with a needle, gently, in different parts of the body, and obtained electrical skin conduction responses And we thought we would find no responses One of the things that clued us in to this as being a neurological

rather than a psychological disorder, if you ask him where did he want it amputated, he’d take a felt pen, and he would draw an exact line just above the elbow or below the elbow or just above the hand Very precise line, often irregular line, sloping line, and then if you let him go home, don’t tell him you’re gonna retest him, but bring him back after six months, he’ll draw exactly the same line Unless he’s being deliberately deceptive, got it memorized It’s very unlikely he’s doing that So this suggests that Why would the precise line matter? Some vague inclination to get the arm removed, why would the precise line matter? In fact there are many psychological theories of this One psychiatric theory holds that it’s a cry for attention, that’s why they want their arm removed Why arm? Why not remove the nose or the ear or something like that? Why the arm always, or the leg, right? Seems pretty drastic way of getting attention Another theory, believe it or not, the Freudian theory, the guy wants his arm removed in order to create an amputation stump, to resemble the giant penis I’m not making this up You can see this in the literature So we thought we’d come up with a neurological, phrenological theory of what’s going on Then we drew the line with the felt tip, poked him with a needle in different parts of the body, to see if the galvanic skin response is normal below the line as opposed to above the line We expected a diminished galvanic skin response below the line, because that part of the arm is not represented in the brain, according to our theory Well we found the opposite As often happens in science We found below the line there’s a huge galvanic skin response Above the line, is perfectly normal as you would expect Is that clear? Okay if you poke somebody with a needle, unless it goes to S1 of course, and S2, the somatic representation of the body, but it also goes to an area called the insular cortex, and from there it gets into the anterior singular and from there messages cascade down the sympathetic nervous system, producing sympathetic arousal to the pain And then this manifests as a change in sweating of the skin, which in turn can be measured as a change in skin resistance You put two electrodes in the palm and I scare you with a needle or I scare you with a lion, you start sweating This registers as a fall in skin resistance Base of lie detectors Any anxiety, any panic will produce resistance So clearly, he was registering a higher response to the alienated part of the limb than to the normal part, which is opposite of what we predicted But hang on a second So we said, well our basic, early theory was wrong, so what’s going on here? Then we resorted to brain imaging I don’t have any pictures to show you, but basically what we found was this map was normal, the one I just showed you, S1 is normal S2, which represents joints, muscles, and light touch, that was also normal We said what’s going on here? Everything’s normal Then we went to in superior parietal lobule, SPL, wherever four is, superior parietal lobule is where you create a polysensory representation of your body image You close your eyes, your vivid impression of your own body, inhabiting your own body, the movements of your arms and legs and all that, that sense which was called body image by Henry Head and Lord Russell Brain, two real neurologists, by the way, who called this the body image And that combined sensation from hearing, touch, and vision is in the superior parietal lobule In that map, there is no response from the hand So that map was abnormal There’s a hole, to put it crudely, corresponding to the hand he wanted amputated So what’s going on in this patient is, the messages from the hand and arm are reaching the somatosensory cortex completely normal So the messages, sensory signals are normal, sensory cortex is normal, S2 is normal, but they have nowhere to go to, ’cause there’s a hole in that region of the brain So this creates a discrepancy between the incoming sensory input and there’s no place for them to go to, and the brain aborts discrepancy, that signal goes to the insular and possibly the amygdala, generating a galvanic skin response (grunts) right? So here we have an example of We’ve taken the Freudian theory and discarded it By and large, that would be completely wrong, and then replaced it with an anatomical theory, which we can test in a few hours using a GSR machine, and then do more sophisticated brain imaging and show that we’re on the right track This shows the power of this approach, cognitive neuroscience We can take a bizarre, seemingly incomprehensible neurological disorder, a person wanting his arm removed, and reject the traditional explanation in favor of an anatomical explanation based on the known neuroanatomy of the sensory pathways in the brain Now, can you cure the disorder? We haven’t found a way of treating it yet In fact, they don’t wanna be cured, as I said before But the next topic I’m gonna deal with So this is typical of what we do We take syndromes that have been known for a long time, either rare ones or common ones, like synesthesia is very common I’m gonna talk about that later today

Phantom limbs are quite common, I’ll talk about that as well Our rare ones, and bring them from the clinic to the laboratory and then do systematic experiments, to find out what’s going on, and sometimes we’re actually able to help the patient Now this at the start it doesn’t always work, looking for anomalies Because every now and then You only hear of the success stories Nine out of 10 times it’s a wild goose chase Anomalies in neurology Neurology and psychiatry are full of anomalous syndromes Nine out 10 times a wild goose chase You only hear of the success stories I’ll give you three examples of wild goose chases Very briefly There’s a syndrome called De Clerambault Syndrome How many of you know about De Clerambault Syndrome? Nobody See? Pretty obscure Even most neuro and psychiatrists haven’t heard of it It refers to a syndrome that’s defined as, it’s accepted in psychiatry textbooks, a young woman, typically young woman, who develops the delusion that an old, rich, famous man is madly in love with her but is in denial about it (audience laughing) Funnily enough, the converse of the syndrome has not been described, where an older gentleman develops a delusion that a young hottie is sexually interested in him, but is in denial about it This is much more common, I can assure you (audience laughing) Another bogus syndrome is chronic underachievement syndrome This is actually found in textbooks Chronic underachievement syndrome My day it used to be called stupidity (audience laughing) The third syndrome, my favorite, is oppositional defiant disorder, ODD This young spirited youngster daring to challenge the establishment The psychiatrist challenged her parent The man who invented the syndrome is genius, because any attempt by the patient to disprove the syndrome, the pretend syndrome, can be construed as additional evidence for the diagnosis Leaving that aside, every now and then you stumble on legitimate syndromes that give you key insights So for example, apotemnophilia Now I’m gonna talk about something else, this you heard before, many of you, but I’m gonna repeat it, the gist of it Phantom limbs An arm or leg were amputated and you continue to feel its presence is called a phantom limb Some years ago, nearly 15 years ago we had a patient with a left arm amputated and we made a specific prediction based on work on monkeys run by Mike Merzenich and others So nobody had tested it on humans, so we had a patient sitting in my lab, whose left arm had been amputated, we blindfolded him and simply took a Q-tip and touched different parts of his body, and asked him, “What do you feel?” He said, “It’s my right shoulder, and my chest.” So here’s a patient sitting in the chair, blindfolded, took a Q-tip, touched different parts of his body, did a routine sensory neurological exam “What’s that?” “That’s a Q-tip.” “What are you touching?” “Right chest.” “That’s my right shoulder, my left shoulder “Left upper arm “Oh my god you’re touching my left phantom thumb “And my phantom pinky, and my phantom index finger.” We found there’s a complete map of the missing arm on the face, and you can actually plot receptor fields You can plot receptor fields Like the thumb was there Ball of the thumb, index finger, pinky And you can send him home, bring him back after a month and it’s exactly the same No way he could’ve memorized that And why is this going on, happening? Well we can do a bit of detective work Go back to the Penfield map Notice that the map is completely, as a map should be, continuous, except for one fact: the face is not near the head, where it’s supposed to be, near the neck, it’s below the hand Is that clear? So we said, what’s going on? And when you amputate the arm, these sensory signals don’t get to be handed in the brain Signals from the face can normally go into the face area, invade, and cross and invade the territory vacated by the missing hand So there’s this cross-wiring You ignore the arm and the hand, there are no signals coming to this region of the brain, the hand region That region’s hungry for new sensory input The sensory input not coming from the face came to the face area, invades the territory corresponding to the missing hand, activates the cells, and those cells misinterpret the signals as coming from the missing phantom hand So when you touch the face he thinks you’re touching his hand So you can have fun with this We took a Q-tip and put it in ice-cold water and put it on his face, and he said, “Oh my god, my thumb feels ice-cold, doctor.” So the reorganization is morality-specific, it’s not higgledy-piggledy Touch goes to touch, warm goes to warm, cold goes to cold On one occasion, water started trickling down his face, accidentally, and he said, “Oh my god, I can feel the trickle of the water!” And he took his other hand, normal hand, and followed the trickle, “It’s coming down here, “it’s coming down here, oh it stops here at the wrist.” Where the water stopped So it’s exquisitely precise, the reorganization Just for fun I said, “Raise your stump and point to the ceiling.” The phantom is pointed to the ceiling, upward Then I put the water here, started trickling down, I said, “What do you feel?”

He said, “Oh my god the water is trickling upwards, “defying the laws of gravity.” You knew the patients often enough, you realize that they don’t make up stories like that Alright, I can continue along these I’m running out of time soon, I’m gonna skip a lot of stuff Can do brain imaging to show the reorganization has indeed occurred The other interesting thing about phantom limbs is, the patient can often move the phantom Majority of patients can move the phantom But about a third of them, the phantom is fixed or immobilized And often in a painful position The patient will say, mimic the phantom positions with his normal hand and will say, “It’s like this, doctor.” Occupying it’s like this “My hand is extending, hyper-extending, “so my knuckles are touching the back of my wrist “It’s anatomically impossible, but my hand is doing it.” And it’s like that movie, what is the movie? Where the head spins around? (audience member mumbles) Yeah, so it’s anatomically impossible and it’s excruciatingly painful, “I wish I could straighten my wrist “and the pain will go away.” “So why don’t you try?” “I’m trying, I’m trying, I’m sweating, I can’t do it.” I’m gonna cut a long story short, we hit on the idea of putting a mirror there and showing the reflection of the mirror, we can go into detail during the question and answer later, put a mirror inside a cardboard box, and the phantom, the clenched phantom, often they will say, “The fingers are biting into the “The nails are biting into the palm, doctor, “and it’s excruciatingly painful.” There’s no nails, there’s no palm, there’s no hand It’s a phantom It’s a serious clinical problem Become profoundly depressed, lose their jobs, on occasion they contemplate suicide So you put a mirror there and you have the patient clench the normal hand and look at the reflection of the normal hand in the mirror so that the reflection of the normal hand is superimposed optically on the phantom hand, so you visually resurrected the phantom Then you say, “Okay send symmetrical commands “to both hands to open or close.” He says, “I know you’re telling me that I can do that, “my left hand, it will not open.” I said, “Just take a look in the mirror and see.” He said, “Oh my god it looks like it’s opening “And my god it also feels like it’s opening, “it doesn’t merely look like it’s opening.” Which is not surprising, it’s optics But it feels like it’s opening, and the clenching spasm is removed, it’s gone, the pain is gone Then I said, “Remove the mirror.” I removed the mirror Then try with your eyes closed and imagine it, and, “No it doesn’t work, I keep trying but it doesn’t work.” Put the mirror and then, “Wow, it’s opening, it’s opening, it feels good.” So I said, “Well, maybe “You can’t carry around a mirror all the time “Maybe you can get to a point where you can practice “with the mirror one hour a day, “and after about a week or two or a month, “you can dispense with the mirror, “you can just move it on its own.” He can just unclench it whenever he wants to So I sent him home with a box, only $2, sent him home with a box And then after two weeks I phoned him up and I said, “Have you been practicing?” He said, “Yes I’ve been practicing “When I keep my eyes open, the pain gets relieved “for about an hour, and then it comes back “with a vengeance “And then I put the mirror back and it goes back again “So I keep doing refills “I know you want it to go away permanently, but it doesn’t.” I said, “Fine, c’est la vie, you know?” Then after a week he phones me, and he’s all agitated on the phone I said, “What’s wrong, Derek?” He said, “You’re not gonna believe this.” I said, “What?” “It’s gone,” he says I said, “What’s gone?” I thought maybe the box was gone He said, “No, no, no, not the box “The phantom limb which I’ve had for the last 13 years “The phantom limb is gone, it’s disappeared.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “It’s gone.” I said, “When?” “Like three days ago “I’ve been trying to reach you.” And I was a bit worried about this because human subjects and ethics, because I’ve permanently modified this guy’s body image, if what he’s saying is true Then I said, “Well does it bother you?” He said, “No, the pain that I had “in my phantom elbow, my phantom wrist, “and my phantom fingers, I’ve never had those pains “In the last three days I don’t have a phantom.” We can go into the question of why this happens later, but clinically, this has been tried in several clinical trials, one in the New England Journal of Medicine, so you can see the Published in the New England Journal of Medicine from Walter Reed You can see with the mirror they say the pain drops to almost no pain With the covered mirror and visual imagery the pain actually goes up until they crossed over and then the pain drops again in the mirror And now it’s widely used in clinics around the world Now, surprising, curing pain in a phantom limb with a mirror is surprising enough Now as you see there’s a lot of variability Only about half the patients are helped In about half of them the mirror does nothing, typically patients who’ve seen them for a long time These variables need to be studied There’s another disorder which I want to tell you about Speaking of mind and body and Lekov here has done more than anybody else to talk about links between mind and body But here is a powerful example you see in the clinic Ordinarily we think of pain as one thing But there’s in fact two kinds of pain There’s chronic pain and acute pain Acute pain, you touch the kettle and you withdraw to prevent further tissue injury Obvious adaptive value Chronic pain is the opposite Immobilize the arm You’ve a tiny metacarpal bone fracture, and your finger becomes painful, immobilized,

there’s a reflex immobilization to prevent further injury to the finger, and it gets swollen and it gets inflamed and it gets warm and it gets red All signs, it remains swollen, warm, red, painful, and inflamed And then the bone heals after two weeks, all the change is reversed, the inflammation subsides, pain goes away, the finger starts moving again That’s normal, 99% of people In about one or two percent of people that does not happen The injury heals, the bone heals, in x-ray, but the pain persists with a vengeance It continues to be immobilized, paralyzed It gets swollen, it gets warm Normally then it spreads to the entire hand Entire hand gets warm, swollen, painful, immobilized, paralyzed Entire arm gets paralyzed, swollen, immobilized, from the starting from the little metacarpal bone fracture So what’s going on here? I don’t know We still don’t know But one thing, the paralysis I think is partly due to what we call learned paralysis Every time you attempted to move this finger, move the arm, brain was sending a single, “Ouch, it’s painful, stop moving it.” So there’s a habean link between the very attempt to move the hand and the excruciating pain So the brain gives up and says “Stop moving your hand.” So you get this pseudo-paralysis arising from punishment So we said, “How do you cure this?” Well let’s put a mirror here, of course And put the other hand there, and send a symmetrical command, you’re gonna get a visual illusion that the paralyzed, swollen, painful hand is actually moving with impunity But he’s not actually moving it There’s an optical twin that’s moving He’s seeing the reflection of his normal hand moving But with that unlearned the learned pain phenomenon But this is a wild hunch, even by my standards, and we’re setting out to do it, fortunately another group did it, Halligan, Marshall and Wall, in England And they That shows you an example of RSD They did a similar experiment with a mirror and found dramatic recovery In fact, what’s astonishing is, when you put the mirror there Here’s a guy for months he’s been swollen and paralyzed and inflamed and painful He moves the normal hand, in a few minutes the inflammation stops, not only the pain, but the mobility returns and the swelling starts subsiding And the temperature starts falling You can’t fake a fallen temperature So that convinced me that it was real And then when I saw one of the authors was Patrick Wall, who’s the world’s leading expert on pain, he’s experimented on placebos as well, so his name was in the papers, I figured this must be a real phenomenon Since then, there’s been about four or five controlled studies, there’s been blind controlled studies, placebo controlled studies, also now it’s the accepted first line of approach treating RSD in clinics around the world It’s an extraordinary example to me of mind-body interaction That a mirror is producing changes Vascular changes in sympathetic pain, changes in swelling, all of it, temperature, all of that All online It’s also being used for stroke by the way now, mirror rehab, and also for neglect, which I won’t go into now, for a lack of time Now just when I thought I was done with phantom limbs, I came across another phenomenon I started reading Rizzolatti’s work on mirror neurons I speculated on this, and jumped off my seat when I first heard the talk Everybody here knows about mirror neurons, especially here in Berkeley They’re neurons in the front of the brain, prefrontal cortex, roughly homologous to Brocal’s area, B5 These neurons normally are the garden-variety motor command neurons which when a monkey or a person reaches out and grabs a peanut, a neuron fires, orchestrating the series of motor twitches required for grabbing the peanut About 10% of these neurons Rizzolatti found They’ll also fire when I watch George here reaching out and grabbing a peanut They’ve been quickly dubbed monkey see, monkey do neuron, or mirror neurons So they’re sort of simulating doing a virtual reality simulation of your impending action, is the claim Now, there’s also sensory mirror neurons, they’re equally interesting Discovered by Christian Kaiser in S2, the sensory cortex Remember I showed you the map of the sensory areas of the brain When you touch my left hand, right somatosensory cortex, S1, S2 cells are activated, there’s a map This has been known for a long time since Lord Adrian, goes back 70 to 100 years Now, a subset of these neurons, about 10% of them will react to my watching George’s thumb being touched So this is very interesting because we can call them empathy neurons Because the neuron is effectively saying, what’s happening to George is similar to what would happen to you if your thumb were touched So empathize with George, you know what it’s like to feel his touch Same thing with pain, you go to anterior singular, there are neurons sensitive to pain If you poke my thumb with a needle, it goes to my anterior singular and I say, “Ouch.”

But if you poke George’s thumb with a needle, a subset of the same neurons fire and I can empathize with George But here’s an interesting question: Wouldn’t I shout, “Ouch” when he’s poked with a needle? The same neurons are firing Wouldn’t I withdraw my hand and I will simply watch George’s hand being poked? A couple of possibilities One possibility, obvious possibility, is I wear my normal skin sending a veto signal saying, “Don’t worry, you’re not actually being poked “Empathize with George, by all means, “but don’t dissolve into him “Don’t withdraw your hand suddenly “because that’s maladaptive, it’d be a waste of time “So empathize with him, know what it’s like to be George, “in George’s shoes right now, “but don’t withdraw your hand, that would be foolish.” So I looked at this and I said, “Well the obvious prediction is if I amputate my arm “and look at George being poked, “I should feel the pain in my phantom.” Because the afferent signals are gone There’s no veto signal Is that clear or obscure? So in the hundred years that we’ve known about phantom limbs, nobody answers this question If you poke somebody with a needle when a phantom limb patient is watching, does he feel the poke in his phantom? The answer is yes We’ve seen in three patients now, they watch another patient being poked, they feel the pain in their phantom So we call these empathy neurons or Gandhi neurons (audience laughing) Now there’s some debate about whether mirror neurons are significant, whether they’re important or the same mysteria of the minds, action understanding action, production, all of this, just is it old-fashioned psychology, new words to describe empathy and things like that We won’t go into that This patient went home and he had a smart idea and we talked about it before he went home He feels excruciating phantom pain in his phantom arm, cramped, phantom cramping pain He can’t do anything about it We were already getting ready to start him on the mirror protocol, before that he simply watched his wife’s hand being massaged And of course he felt a phantom massage in his phantom hand, he claimed ‘Cause he needed to relieve the phantom pain This is not, unlike the mirror procedure, this has not been tested in clinics, in a clinical setting using placebo controls But if it works, it’ll be a clear example of a practical application of the idea of mirror neurons Leaving aside all the arcane, theoretical debates about how significant they are, practically, in the clinic, to alleviate phantom pain That guy doesn’t care (mumbles) the theory or the mind or what it is His pain goes away Now another prediction we made, this is kind of cute, actually Going back to the motor neurons, there’s a condition called OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder In one particular variation which is particularly troubling to the patient is ritual hand washing A person accidentally touches a doorknob, this mere minor contamination elicits acute anxiety, almost panic, and the guys incessantly wash their hands, to the point of erosion of the hand, fingers and skin And then we said, “Well what if he simply “watches another guy washing his hand?” Sounds stupid Some of my best experiments begin as jokes, by the way (audience laughing) So I said, “What if he watches somebody…” There’s an experiment done with Jalal, Baland Jalal, a student in my lab So sure enough, in about two thirds of the patients we’ve seen with OCD traits, hand washing compulsions, they watch another person washing his hands, they get relief And the interesting thing about this is it can’t be response bias because they’re surprised by it “How the hell…? “Why should him washing his hand produce relief in me? “It doesn’t make any sense.” They express surprise So I think we’re on to something, a potential treatment for OCD Because you could have an app that shows you, as soon as you get the urge, you look at your self washing your own hand, you don’t have to go to the toilet and spend half an hour, right? So another example of a clinical application for something like OCD It’s a topic that I know very little about, by the way I’d like to switch gears now and talk about phenomenon which we call synesthesia Which was documented first by Francis Galton, in 19th century, first cousin of Charles Darwin He noticed some otherwise normal people in the general population He said it was rare, one in 1,000, one in 500, now we know one in 50 people have synesthesia So this condition is one where a person is otherwise completely normal If he sees a printed number on a white sheet of paper, like five is red, six is blue, seven is green, eight is chartreuse, nine is indigo, and so on and so forth The color remains constant for any particular individuals over years, stable over years It’s different for different people, not the same colors for different people Although there are trends, we can get to that if you want Now since the discovery of synesthesia by Galton, there have been hundreds of case reports, but no attempt to understand what’s going on in the brain or what causes it And in fact, people brushed it aside, classic example of an anomaly in science, a Kuhnian anomaly, which people brush under the carpet and say, “It doesn’t make any sense

“What do you mean five is red, six is blue? “It doesn’t make any sense.” Well often anomalies can pave the way to new discovery and new areas of research So we thought, well why not study these people? And the standard explanation of synesthesia, by the way, one explanation is these are just crazy That’s not an explanation Even if it’s true, let’s put that aside for the time being, come back to it as a last resort Second explanation is, they’re high on drugs And sure enough, it’s about seven times more common in Berkeley than at UCSD (audience laughing) But leaving that aside, the fact that drugs influence synesthesia is not evidence against synesthesia being a legitimate phenomenon It makes it more interesting Why would some drugs enhance this propensity to see numbers as color? The third explanation is they’re just childhood memories They’ve been playing with the refrigerator magnets and five was red and six was green and seven was blue and eight was yellow and so on and so forth This doesn’t make any sense to me because why does it run in families? Galton himself showed that synesthesia runs in families and possibly in a Mendelian fashion, so it’s inherited So you have to see the same madness as being passed on from generation to generation, which didn’t make much sense But you had to keep in mind the possibility And then if it’s true, if it’s just magnets, why don’t we all have synesthesia? Why only a subset? Obvious questions The fourth possibility is more ingenious but a bit vague Along the lines that George and I have been thinking I’m not saying you’re vague, but I’m vague That is that maybe they’re being metaphorical when they say five is green Maybe it’s like oh, say, F sharp is blue It’s like saying cheddar cheese is sharp The cheese isn’t sharp You rub it on your skin it’s soft You say, “No, no, no, the taste is sharp.” But there’s a circularity there Why do you use a gustatory metaphor, a tactile metaphor to describe a gustatory sensation? There’s a whole area of research that this leads to which we don’t have time to go into But this may be on the right track, as you can see, this is what I’m gonna argue First of all, are they crazy? We did a number of experiments to show that they are not It’s a legitimate phenomenon And in a subset (mumbles) there are two kinds of synaesthetes, the projectors and the associators Projectors are the minority, maybe about 10 to 15%, synaesthetes, and we stumbled on two of them, luckily when we started doing the research on synesthesia Associators are more difficult to study They constitute 80 to 90% of them So let’s talk about projectors So we said, “How do you know they’re not making it up?” Well we designed this display You’ve got a synaesthete who sees numbers as color So we show normal people this panel of fives with some two scattered among them Can you find the twos? One there, one there, one there They form a shape, either a square or a triangle or a circle And it takes ages Takes 20, 30 seconds before you spot the upside down triangle A synaesthete looking at it sees it much faster He says, “Oh I see an upside down red triangle.” If you’re a projector synaesthete Now if he’s crazy, how come he’s better than us? This has been confirmed by Jamie Warr, by the way, in London, in a larger group of This experiment done with Ed Halbert, he used to be a student here at Berkeley before he turned into a grad student Also there’s phenomenology You talk to these patients, for them it’s not a patient, subject, sorry about that Synaesthete I saw recently said, “Eight is blue.” And I said, “Do you see the blue in your mind’s eye? “Like when you think of Cinderella “you think of a pumpkin or you think of a chariot? “Or do you literally see it blue?” And she said, “No, no, I actually see it blue “It’s not like Cinderella and the pumpkin “Because there I can think of Cinderella and her gown, “Cinderella and mice “Whereas here I can only think of blue “The irresistible urge to see blue “And not only that, in my case, it spills out of the color, “Spills out of the letter and forms a halo, “a dusty halo around it.” Now why would that be? The first thing I did was simply put an amoeba around it, and the halo gets blocked, part of the halo gets blocked by the amoeba These kinds of phenomena you can’t explain in terms of vague psychological associations Suggests strongly that they’re sensory in character You can even put an illusory contour around the A, it gets blocked by the illusory contour We can get back to where that’s happening in a minute So what’s happening in synesthesia, what’s going on? Rumor that it runs in families, that’s one clue It’s also (mumbles) that synesthesia is seven or eight times more common among artists, poets, and novelists and other creative people than in the normal population That’s another piece of the puzzle We’ve got all these pieces of the puzzle Why is it eight times more common among novelists, poets, and artists? Why? We’ll see in a minute And in the subset of synesthesia we’ve got the projectors, we stumbled on, the anatomy is straightforward Greg Hubbard and I were looking at brain atlases We saw that the area for numbers shown in the red, discovered by Stanislas Dehaine and Tim Ritger in our lab, in our department,

shows where graphemes are represented, including numerals And the green path is (mumbles) Z4 This is involved in processing color We said, “What’s the likelihood of the most common “type of synesthesia, number-color synesthesia “and these two are right next to each other “in the fusiform gyrus of the brain?” Well we said, “It’s very unlikely to be a coincidence “Maybe there is some accidental cross-wiring “between number and color.” So every time they see a black and white number it activates a number node and cross-activates a color node spontaneously so they see a particular color Now why would there be cross-activation of this kind in these people? Remember the clue comes from the fact that it runs in families Remember that in the fetus, in early embryology, in early, early childhood, perhaps, everything is connected to everything That’s an overstatement, but a tremendous redundancy of connections But then these excess connections are pruned away by pruning genes to create a modular architecture that characterizes the adult brain, including number area and color area So if these pruning genes are mutated, there’s defective pruning, then some redundant connections are gonna be left behind, for example the mutant pruning gene is selectively expressed by transcription factors in the fusiform gyrus alone, you get this quirky number-color synesthesia And what about the higher synaesthetes? Where it’s not just the number that produces, visual appearance of the number that produces So-called associators, what about them? Well we did a simple experiment on these people, these projectors We said, we asked a very simple question which had not been asked about synaesthetes since the 100 years we’ve known about it, since Galton’s time Instead of showing them a five, why don’t you show them a V, a Roman five? Instead of showing them an Arabic six or an Arabic seven, I should call them Indian by the way, but instead of showing an Arabic number, why when you show them a Roman five, what do they see? Do they see a color? The answer is, I’ve never met a synaesthete who’s seen color in a Roman number So it’s not the concept of the number creates the color, it’s the visual appearance, which fits the idea that fusiform gyrus encodes the visual appearance, not the higher level concept of numerosity, ordinality, cardinality, and all that good stuff Which, by the way, I think happens in the angular gyrus We’ve long known that the angular gyrus, if the left angular gyrus is damaged, you get discalculius If you ask him to subtract 17 from 21, he’ll say, “Oh it’s 14.” He will glibly say it’s 14, and is sure that he knows it for certain Discalculia’s another whole lecture So I think in the projector synaesthetes, the cross-wiring gene is expressed, you have the cross-wiring gene, we get number-color synesthesia In the associator synaesthete, it’s expressed higher up so the idea of sequence is mapped onto higher color areas in the brain In the color processing hierarchy So it’s expressed higher up I can show you a diagram later In the vicinity of the angular gyrus you get higher synaesthetes or lower synaesthetes Which would explain why some of these higher synaesthetes also experience not only numbers as color but days of the week as color Monday is red, Tuesday is blue, Wednesday is chartreuse And months of the year as color Again, it seems completely and utterly incomprehensible What do they all have in common? Months of the year, days of the week, and numbers? Sequence So I think the angular gyrus is where the action is And now there’s some research using DT imaging by Rumka Holt in our lab, she’s visiting our lab, she has shown that in fact, if you do DT imaging, there’s more white matter in the vicinity of the angular gyrus in the associators and in the fusiform gyrus in the projectors But this is still very preliminary, I should add a note of warning Okay here’s another fun example, and we can play games with these people How many of you can read that? Raise your hand Very tough Now squint your eyes (audience laughing) George you can’t read it yet? Remove your glasses Okay Alright, now guess what happens when you show this to a projector synaesthete? Projector synaesthete says, “Well I see a jumble of colors but I don’t know why, “because you know I can’t see any letters.” Then they say, “Oh wait a minute, I know why that’s red “It’s an N “It’s an O, that’s why it’s blue “S, E, oh I see, ha ha ha.” Okay so they’re seeing the colors being activated but it’s hidden numbers Before they reach consciousness and register as graphemes So the blind side for numerals in synaesthetes So what I’m claiming is, in these individuals, those hidden numbers are activating the color area of the brain, and then they’re evoking a proper (mumbles) they’re evoking a number area of the brain Activating the number area Evoking the appropriate color even before

the message is sent higher up to be recognized as a grapheme So you’re seeing the colors and using the colors to infer what the grapheme The most striking example of this I’ve seen is two colorblind synaesthetes Sounds like an oxymoron This person could see a limited range of color because of vision cone pigments in the eye Limited range of color in the external world, but when they saw numbers, they would see colors that you would never see in the external world They call them, charmingly refer to them as martian colors And the reason again We’ve seen two patients like this The reason again is because the cone pigments are deficient so they can’t see colors in the real world, they see only limited range But they saw a number, the number activates a number node and cross-activates color neurons which can’t experience those colors in the real world because the receptors don’t exist It’s hardwired for seeing quote-unquote martian colors Is that clear? This again eliminates any possibility of learning being the basis of synesthesia How can you learn a color you’ve never seen? Another phenomenon Galton, the astute Galton noticed was what he called number lines When I ask any of you to imagine numbers in front of you, one to 10, you may be crudely going left to right, one, two, three, four, and it’s very vague, there’s nothing really clear But in some individuals, Galton noticed, and again we find this about one in 50, to one in hundred, will see a vivid, three-dimensional layout of numbers in the visual field One is here, two is here, and it’s convoluted, not straight line left to right It’s convoluted, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 And often doubles back on itself like this So fifteen may be close to two, instead of being close to 16 or 14 in Cartesian space And this has been ignored for 100 years and Ed Hubbard and I and David Brian did some experiments to establish that the people are not faking it We used the number-distance effect, I don’t have time to go into it So they’re not faking it The number line affects their reaction time to numbers So then there’d be mixed results on this phenomenon But everybody agrees with me about the phenomenon, the question is why does it arise? Why would some people see numbers and imagine numbers like Again, it’s a classic example of an anomaly in science And people ignore it for that reason I don’t know the answer to why they see it this way, unlike the grapheme color synesthesia where I had a clear answer But only one reason, the one thing I can think of is arithmetic and numbers and mathematics is a recent event in human evolution, maybe 5,000, 10,000 years old And the brain can’t invent a completely new algorithm from scratch to handle numbers, ordinality, sequences and all of that So what it does is, it adopts a trick using preexisting maps in the brain Maps go back into Ionian times in our fish-like ancestors Brain is full of maps So you map on the ideal concept of numerical sequence, ordinality and cardinality and quantity Onto spacial map to create a graph If something goes awry with this remapping of this concept of sequence onto a spacial map, you get these peculiar number lines Now how do you test this idea? I have no idea But it’s an interesting idea nonetheless Now some of these people also have, I’m almost done Some of these individuals, and we’ve studied a number of these, David Brian has studied them in our lab Have what we call calendar lines Here is a woman we studied recently And when I ask any one of you to imagine a calendar in front of you, typically most people imagine a rectangular calendar Like a real calendar, January, February, March, and then you know, so on and so forth Very vague, nothing very clear It’s in your mind’s eye These people see a very clearly laid-out, three-dimensionally laid-out calendar, always circular, never rectangular, and never in the cardinal plane but in the transverse plane, like a hula hoop going through their chest January, February, March, April, May Current month always occupies the ego of the calendar You see this repeatedly in different subjects And here’s an interesting one that George would like You’ll do interesting experiments on them like what if you tilt their head like this? Does the calendar tilt? The answer is no, it stays like a water level, where it is Here is the best part If you ask them to rotate their head like this, what happens to the calendar? The calendar’s here like a hula hoop Rotate their head like that to the right, what happens to the calendar? Calendar, in this particular case, remains attached to the head Sorry, attached to the body It’s in sort of Put it crudely, body-centered, not head-centered But the exciting thing is, she noticed that the left side of the calendar became fuzzy as she rotated her head, like a real, physical calendar Why in the hell would a mental calendar be like a physical calendar? And she said also, she organizes her life, her time and space and calendar, using this calendar helps her organize her otherwise chaotic and meaningless life And then she looks back

and she looks on the other side the opposite happens So she can use this mental calendar to organize her daily activities and her future, project herself into the future Surely a vital part of what you call the self And not only that, here’s what we’re testing currently If she does this, memories, episodic memories, events that happened in January, February, become fuzzy She has to look there to retrieve memories She’s an undergraduate student, I don’t think she’s read Lekov’s book, so I don’t think she’s making it up, but we don’t know yet for sure We’re testing her Lovely example of embodied cognition, her neck muscles are gaining access to memories, episodic memories Now, where is it happening? This is what we always do, when we look at peculiar phenomenon, to nail it down, show what’s going on, so it’s a real phenomenon, the patient’s not making it up, and try to figure out what’s going on in the brain and a possible cure if it requires curing What’s going on in the brain? Well, I said the angular gyrus must play a critical role in sequence I think it plays a critical role in calendars This can be tested But then, what about hippocampus? It’s got play cells, it’s got two kinds of cells involved in spatial and temporal labeling of events And now it turns out, looking at atlases, there are direct connections between the angular gyrus and the hippocampus, the inferior longitudinal fasciculus And that’s shown in the next slide So I’m claiming that the human mental calendar, which we take for granted but we use for organizing our lives, life would be completely meaningless People usually attribute it to fondle structures I think fondle structures only involve paying attention to specific regions of the calendar Calendar itself is constructed by interactions between the left angular gyrus and the hippocampus Okay I’ll just conclude there by saying that all of these problems which are tangentially related to the problem of self, how you construct the body image, how you feel a hand cut inside your body, embodied cognition, projecting yourself into the future and creating a calendar around which your life revolves, your problems are considered intractable but we can sort of begin to just scratch the surface Thank you (audience applauding) – Hi, my name is Eric So I have a question about synesthesia – Sure – You mentioned that synesthesia runs in families So there’s a genetic factor In your studies, did you notice that the same synesthesia, the color-number synesthesia is hereditary, or is it different? – It’s a problem statistically because the most common form is number-color or letter, grapheme-color I think there is a tendency for the same form to be inherited, but it’s not been The only thing we know for sure is if you have one type of synesthesia, you’re much more likely to have another unrelated type of synesthesia as well Which supports my defective pruning theory The same transcription factors are expressed in two different regions in the same brain And you’re gonna get two unrelated types of synesthesia co-occurring, more often than by chance – Are these like functional areas that are sort of The function’s kind of fused together? – To give you an example, the number-color synaesthetes are often the ones with the calendar synesthesia And often the ones with tone-color as well They don’t always have to occur together but often do, or much more often than by chance – Thank you – Sure I didn’t mention about creativity, but I’ll get to that later – Hi, thanks for a great talk I wanted to say something here a little more about the metaphorical views or the anthropomorphism involved with talking about the neurons in the brain When you say that an area that normally corresponds to an amputated limb or something, when you say it’s starved for stimulation or it’s hungry or something like that, so what is that describing? Why would a non-stimulated area in the brain care whether or not it was stimulated or not? So in what sense is there a causal explanation for saying Or the cross-wiring sounds a little more plausible than saying oh it’s hungry or it’s starved or stimulation wants to move around? – I was just being loose with the terminology Sorry It’s a legitimate question – I forget the name of that syndrome where somebody wants to have an amputation – Xenomelia – Xenomelia? – Yeah – Great Just a question of ethics in that regard – Before it’s not done yet – Well but do we mutilate somebody because their heart wants to look differently? That’s the kind of issue that has come up and have you seen some advances in figuring that ethical question out? – I’m interested in those issues, but it doesn’t come up in our case because the patient, no surgeon will ever do the amputation They have to go across the border to get it done – At least in the US – At least in the US – Thank you – Hi Do you have any thoughts of

what is going on in schizophrenia, for example? The self is broken or I don’t know how Maybe do you have some thoughts about it? – I’ve thought about it, but not enough to say anything intelligent Thank you – These unexplained thought forms like synesthesia, any evidence or maybe a feeling of immortality of the soul? (audience laughing) – It’s a question for George – Quick question You didn’t wanna touch on, in this talk, but just a brief background from you on the ancient civilizations of India, the whole Vedic tantra Agama literature How do you connect it yourself with some of the phenomena that you’ve talked about today? – There’s the metaphysical issues that are being dealt with in Vedic literature or (mumbles) In Hebrew literature, in neo-Christian literature which I haven’t touched on because I don’t have any expertise in that I’m very interested in it, obviously The self is something that I can come to grips with, at least partially, so I focus my attention on that But I like sharing this quotation from the Upanishads, where he says that the individual self, human beings are like windows Let the light pass through And there’s a central light illuminating the building from inside, which is called (foreign language), or universal spirit or consciousness or whatever When an individual dies, the window shuts, but the universal spirit continues shining through other windows It’s a comforting thought but I don’t have any deep thoughts about it – Thank you – It’s a good question, though – I wondered if you’d done any research on photophobia? People’s feeling pain with regards to color – I know a couple students who have that We haven’t studied it Fascinating question But I can’t tell you anything about it – Like whether pain’s…? Okay Thanks – Hi You just briefly mentioned that you hadn’t explored creativity in synesthesia, and I’m just wondering about work done on I know with music, different composers who are very skilled who have synesthesia, different composers see different colors, like Scriabin and Messiaen These composers Has there been any research on where that happens or what’s the effect that’s going on in the brain and why they each see different colors with sound and all of that? – Well we can’t get that specific, but I do have a theory about why synesthesia is so much more common among artists, poets, and novelists, why it promotes artistic talent The reason is, I think that the same gene that’s expressed selectively in fusiform gyrus or angular gyrus producing this quirky association of synesthesia, if it’s expressed throughout the brain, there’s gonna be creative cross-connectivity throughout the brain, and ideas and concepts are also in far-flung regions of the brain, like when you say Juliet is the east and Juliet is the sun So Juliet is the sun, does that mean she’s a glowing ball of fire? You don’t say that You say she’s warm, she’s nurturing, she’s radiant like the sun, she rises in bed like the sun rises in the east She’s the center of my solar system like the sun is the center of the solar system You can make as many associations as you want And these people have excess connections connecting far-flung brain regions, have a greater propensity to link seemingly unrelated ideas And this is what we call artistic creativity or facility in metaphor In fact, you can even think to put it in phrenological terms, each node has a penumbra of meaning, like Juliet of the sun has a penumbra of meanings associated with it And because of the excess connections, the penumbra is bigger in synaesthetes There’s greater zones of overlap between two seemingly unrelated ideas, so it makes them more creative Hence the higher incidents of And hence, by the way, the higher prevalence of synesthesia gene Why would one in 50 people have this quirky ability of linking five and red? Because there’s a hidden agenda because the gene makes the outliers in the population more creative and imaginative in general And the penalty you pay for that is the minority who sees five as red but doesn’t do them any harm Otherwise there would be no selection process to maintain this gene in the population, it would’ve drifted away a long time ago – Thank you – Thank you But regarding specific details of colors and all that, we haven’t studied that It’s a good question – On the same subject of creativity, I’m coming from linguistics like literature, and I’m trying to bring new findings of neurolinguistics into how the brain acts and reacts in writing And I know a little bit about words that has to do with visual and kinesthetic and auditorial, but I wonder if there’s something

that is written on the subject of the self seeing itself in words or not seeing, you know? Did you write anything about it? ‘Cause you said you– – There are literatures dealing with that but I’m not the right person to ask, but it’s a good question There is literature pertaining to that which I can’t think of it off hand, but – Okay because the last doctor that you said that you’re not gonna discuss is self-awareness And I wonder if there’s some passages there in terms of self-awareness in creativity No? – Not that I know of – I had a question regarding the phantom limb Did you try using different mirrors like concave and convex mirrors and seeing what kind of effect it would have in removing the pain? Or was it just? So the types of mirror that you used in the phantom experiment Yes – The only thing we’ve seen is if you use a magnifying mirror, the phantom looks bigger, the pain also is amplified, momentarily, fortunately – So there is a direct correlation in terms of – Yeah Hasn’t been studied carefully but appears to be, yeah Good question – Thank you – So I had a question about the case of martian colors and the correlation of synesthesia So is there a difference between people who develop colorblindness later in life due to macular degeneration or those who are colorblind from birth so congenital? – We only studied the ones who are from birth – Okay, alright thanks – Two of them, but it’s a good question – I have a question about synesthesia You seem to argue in your talk that synesthesia is more inborn, not learned Or no? – It doesn’t make any sense if synesthesia is inborn You’re not born with letters of the alphabet and numbers – Right that’s what I’m wondering about – What I meant to say was the propensity to link arbitrary shapes like numbers and colors is inborn in some people Not that the phenomenon of synesthesia is inborn – But why would it be always letters and numbers? And why is always letters or numbers…? – There’s a tendency for that region of the fusiform to represent arbitrary shapes, and there are rare cases of synesthesia with faces showing colors, and faces are also in the fusiform gyrus, as Charlie here has shown many years ago, very elegantly – Alright, thank you – Hi, thanks for being here – Sure – Two short questions One is, you mentioned something about neck muscles and memory at the very end of your talk and I missed– – What I meant to say was that in the person with episodic memory who claims, we’re not testing this rigorously by measuring her repeatedly after a few weeks and a few months, giving her some striking episodes and not telling her about it, but if you go by what she’s saying, if she looks to the right, a portion of the calendar is on the left becomes fuzzy, as it would if it were a real calendar She said the memories of those events become fuzzy too and hard to drudge up in consciousness, until she turns around and looks directly at the calendar So it’s helping her to That’s what I meant with the neck muscles gaining the access to episodic memories That’s the extreme version of the hypothesis – Okay Also, what do you think is happening when someone sees someone getting massaged across the room, and let’s not use the anomalous case, let’s just say anybody, they see somebody getting massaged Can they start feeling a little bit better or I know you haven’t studied that but Like what do you think is happening? – Seems to me that because of your afferents, you know that you’re not being massaged, and that kind of silences it So I doubt very much you’d experience any benefit from that But there are a group of people who congenitally have some (mumble) of hyper-empathy It’s claimed by Sarah Blakemore I haven’t seen subject myself, but I trust her judgment So what you’re saying may be true of a minority of the population, 20% of the population But in the case of phantom limbs, the majority of the phantom limb patients experience this hyper-empathy syndrome because of the deafferentation – Okay thank you – Thank you – I have a question about the soul – Okay – Largely because of you, I got invited to the Gifford Lectures after you came And these are the Gifford Lectures on natural theology And I couldn’t resist putting in stuff on the soul so I said, look if the soul has to not, to exist after you die, and goes to heaven, et cetera, or the other place, then it has to, the question is, it has to not have anything that is required by a body So the question is, what is required by a body? And if it’s required by a body, the soul can’t have it So you can study the properties of the soul that way

So can the soul see? No Hence, can’t see, doesn’t have a visual cortex, et cetera Can the soul hear? Sorry, doesn’t have the hearing apparatus for that Can the soul feel touch? No Doesn’t have the appropriate part of the cortex, et cetera And you go through this list Can the soul remember? Doesn’t have what is required for memory for that And so you go through that, and the next question is, does the soul have a personality or your personality? So the question is does personality depend upon the brain in any way? And this is a question I asked Nina, who knows much better than I do, and she pointed out that the Phineas Gage phenomenon would say that it’s lost control, it doesn’t have inhibition, et cetera, sort of like Donald Trump or you know, (laughs) That’s certainly one kind of personality change, but also there could be larger brain injuries that could produce sort of positive changes of all sort and if that’s the case then the soul would not have a fixed personality and therefore not your personality, so in what case is it your soul? So the question about personality is something I really wanted to ask you about, if you’ve thought about that at all? – Short answer is no, I haven’t We should chat at length and develop the idea further – Okay good – What’s it like for a man like you to be living in what I call deep south California? It’s a strange culture down there that we have no understanding of up here No I mean you’ve lived down there for how many years? – 25, 30 years 25 years, yeah It’s very surreal – Ah You have a favorite example? (audience laughing) – I still have to think about it (audience applauding) (cheerful music)

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