One Spirit Can Operate a Split Brain

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Posted on January 30, 2017 in Bible and Theology, Health, Human Body, Intelligent Design, Mind and Brain, Philosophy of Science, Politics and Ethics

Experiments with split-brain patients in Amsterdam lend support to the idea that one immaterial being operates the physical brain, even when damaged.

The University of Amsterdam UVA News posted an intriguing headline: “Split brain does not lead to split consciousness.” Split brain refers to a condition when the corpus callosum, the “pipeline” between the brain’s two hemispheres, has been severed. Classic experiments seemed to show that the left side of the brain could only perceive objects on the left side, and vice versa, leading researchers to conclude that each hemisphere generated its own conscious identity. UvA psychologist Yair Pinto has run new experiments to show that is not entirely true. The experiments are difficult because of the rarity of people having the condition. Pinto had two subjects to work with, allowing a certain level of confirmation of his findings.

To the researchers’ surprise, the patients were able to respond to stimuli throughout the entire visual field with all the response types: left hand, right hand and verbally. Pinto: ‘The patients could accurately indicate whether an object was present in the left visual field and pinpoint its location, even when they responded with the right hand or verbally. This despite the fact that their cerebral hemispheres can hardly communicate with each other and do so at perhaps 1 bit per second, which is less than a normal conversation. I was so surprised that I decide repeat the experiments several more times with all types of control.’

The following graphic in the article illustrates how Pinto has disconfirmed earlier studies.

Y. Pinto

What do the new findings imply?

Amazing FactsAccording to Pinto, the results present clear evidence for unity of consciousness in split-brain patients. ‘The established view of split-brain patients implies that physical connections transmitting massive amounts of information are indispensable for unified consciousness, i.e. one conscious agent in one brain. Our findings, however, reveal that although the two hemispheres are completely insulated from each other, the brain as a whole is still able to produce only one conscious agent. This directly contradicts current orthodoxy and highlights the complexity of unified consciousness.’

If consciousness were a mere phenomenon emerging out of the physical brain, these results would seem impossible. They seem to indicate that an individual soul or spirit (what psychologists dub consciousness) can still operate through this disability, as if a person could still operate a machine that splits into two parts.

Pinto et al.’s results are published in Brain: A Journal of Neurobiology.

There are a couple of lessons here. One is that previous studies that seem to indicate one conclusion can later turn out to be fake science (as in the case of Bateman’s Principle; see 1/22/17). The other, more obvious interpretation, is that the Bible was right, all along: we are individual persons regardless of the condition of our physical brains. We are, as Wernher von Braun once said, “souls cast in animal bodies.” The soul drives the body – not the other way around. This has implications for the Personhood movement.

One Comment

John C January 30, 2017

I understand the rarity of the condition, but does that mean we can draw conclusions from so small a sample? Especially with the difficulties you have rightly described before with repeatability of psychological and neurological testing? Just wondering. Interesting finding, at any rate.

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