Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

THE SEAT OF THE INTELLECTUAL POWERS. 
629 
base of the brain, was found-to be deprived of sight, hearing, taste, and 
smell; it sat constantly in one spot, and was as if dead until strongly 
roused, when it moved a few steps. The animal lived in this state of 
stupor, without its senses being restored, for three months. 
M. Sehoeps (Meckel’s Archiv. 1827,) has instituted similar experi¬ 
ments.* 
It is evident from these experiments, and from the effects of pressure 
on the cerebral hemispheres in man, that they are the seat of the mental 
functions; that in them the sensorial impressions are not merely per¬ 
ceived, but are converted into ideas; and that in them resides the power 
of directing the mind to particular sensorial impressions,—the faculty 
of attention. In what respect the medullary and the grey substance of 
the hemispheres differ with regard to function, we are quite ignorant. 
The capacity of the mind in different animals manifestly increases/?«™* 
passu with the extension of the surface of the cerebral convolutions; 
but we have not the slightest knowledge of the nature of the influence 
exerted by the grey cortical substance into which the innumerable fibres 
which pass through the optic thalami at last radiate. We are ignorant 
of the nature of the change produced in the medullary fibres in the 
cortical substance, or in the principle which animates it, when an idea 
makes an impression on the highly susceptible substance of this wonder¬ 
ful structure. We know only, that every idea is a permanent immutable 
impression in the brain, which may at any moment present itself anew 
if the mind be directed to it,—if the “attention” be turned to it; and 
that it is merely the impossibility of the attention being occupied by 
many objects simultaneously, that causes each to be forgotten. All 
these latent ideas must be regarded as impressions on the brain which 
cannot be effaced. Lesions of the brain may annul a part or all these 
ideas. Thus, in such cases, persons have lost their memory for nouns, 
verbs, or even for the occurrences of certain periods of their life; and 
the memory thus lost has sometimes returned again. The direction of 
the mind to one single idea modifies the co-existence and disturbs the 
equilibrium of all the rest; hence, if the relative strength of the different 
latent ideas were known, it would be almost possible to calculate what 
allied idea would be excited by another known image. 
It is probable that there is in the brain a certain part or element appro¬ 
priated to the affections, the excitement of which causes every idea to 
acquire the intensity of emotion, and which, when very active, gives 
the simplest thought, even in dreams, the character of passion; but the 
existence of such a part or element cannot be strictly proved, nor its 
locality demonstrated. Still less can it be shown that, independently of 
such an element of the mind, the particular tendencies of the thoughts 
and passions have their special seat in distinct districts of the hemi¬ 
spheres. This view, advocated by Gall, which forms the ground-work 
of the doctrine of cranioscopy or phrenology, does not, it is true, involve 
* The functions of the different parts of the encephalon have been lately investi¬ 
gated experimentally by M. Nonat (see Gazette Medicale, Oct. 19, 1839), but appa¬ 
rently without bringing to light any important new results. An account of some 
further experiments by Magendie is contained in his Leçons sur la Système Nerveux. 
Paris, 1839, t. i.
        

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