The hemispherectomy was a procedure performed mostly in the 1960s and 1970s which was performed to help relieve epilepsy. In this procedure, an entire hemisphere of brain (half of the brain) was removed. While there were often some long-term effects on controlling movement in one side of the body, studies showed that these individuals retained their personalities, cognitive and intellectual abilities. Of course this depends on the age of the patient at the time that the surgery is performed. Apparently, the unaffected hemisphere is able to adapt and take over the functions of the hemisphere that has been removed.
To me, this is one piece of evidence for a possible split between mind and brain (software and hardware if you will). I may have missed something, but I think these facts support and ID perspective better than an evolutionary perspective. To consider the pressures of natural selection to produce this ability, you would have to have a large population of humans or ancestors (with brains) suffering neural insults, and those who were able to maintain enough of their previous functioning to reproduce would pass on their mutations for neuroplasticity to the next generation. Even then, what would be the need for maintaining the same personality, memory abilities, and cognitive functioning? All you really need to do is to be smart enough to avoid getting killed and smart enough to reproduce (it’s not all that difficult really–at least the latter).
So, from a design perspective, if you were designing a highly advanced life form, I think you’d want to build in capacity beyond what might really be needed. You’d also want to design it to keep functioning as much as possible in the case of an injury. If it was important that this life form maintain a sense of self or “personhood” if you will, then I think you’d want them to continue being the same person in the absense of as much hardware as is possible. We certainly have capacities that are far beyond what we need to survive and reproduce. If not, then why are we blogging, enjoying nature, painting, making music, studying evolution, and so on and so forth (all things that do nothing to enhance survival of either the species or the individual)?
Filed under: evolution, Intelligent Design, psychology | Tagged: brain, evolution, hemispherectomy, Intelligent Design, metaphysics, mind, mind and brain, naturalism, neurological, neuroplasticity, psychology |