Assignment: Ancient Behavior explanations

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Assignment: Ancient Behavior explanations

Assignment: Ancient Behavior explanations

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Assignment: Ancient Explanations of Behavior

For Further Thought: Why Doesn’t Poking the Brain Produce Pain?

As you will learn later in this chapter, brain surgery is sometimes performed on people who are conscious and can respond to ques- tions during the surgery. A local anesthetic (an- means “without” and -esthesia means “feeling” in Latin), similar to the drug that your dentist uses to numb a tooth, is injected into the scalp (see Photo 1.2) and the connec- tive tissue covering the skull to eliminate the sensation of pain as the surgeon cuts through the scalp and skull to reach the brain. Once inside the skull, however, no painkillers are necessary.

Practitioners of Western medicine no longer believe that evil spirits produce disordered behavior. As a result of careful research and observation, our understanding of the biological foundations of behavior has become quite sophisticated. In Chapter 1 we will examine how knowledge of the workings of the brain developed. We will review modern techniques for studying the brain, and we will conclude the chapter with a consideration of biological explanations of behavior.

1.1 Ancient Explanations of Behavior

The concept of a brain did not figure prominently in the recorded histories of most early socie-ties. In ancient China, more than 40 centuries ago, medical personnel such as Shun Nung (circa 3000 BCE) and Huang Ti (circa 2700 BCE) treated mental afflictions with acupuncture and herbal remedies aimed at balancing the yin and yang and freeing the life energy known as chi. The dis- tinguished scholars Hua T’o (100 CE) and Chang Chung-Ching (200 CE), who perfected the art of Chinese medicine, prescribed treatment for the 12 major organs, which did not include the brain.

Heart-Centered Explanations for Behavior

Cardiocentric explanations, or heart-centered explanations, of behavior were popular in the great ancient civilizations of Western history, including those in Egypt and Greece. According to car- diocentric explanations, the heart produces and regulates all behaviors, including thoughts and emotions (cardio means “heart” in Latin). The brain was not considered a vital organ by the early Egyptians and was removed through the nose and discarded before mummification of a corpse, whereas the heart was preserved for use by the departed in the afterlife.

Aristotle (384–322 BCE) considered the heart to be the organ of intelligence (Spillane, 1981). In his own observations, Aristotle noticed that poking the brain of an injured person did not induce pain (see “For Further Thought: Why Doesn’t Poking the Brain Produce Pain?”). Aristotle reasoned that the brain is not involved in pain perception nor, he concluded, in any other type of perception. The function of the brain, according to Aristotle, was to cool the heart.


Photo 1.2 Why do you think patients need to be conscious during brain surgery? (continued)

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