Analysis of Ramachandran

Topics: Laughter, Pregnancy, Limbic system Pages: 6 (1083 words) Published: February 17, 2015


Analysis of Ramachandran
Mary P. Wright
University of Evansville

Author Note:
This paper was prepared for Honors psychology 101,
Taught by Doctor. Lakey

Who Is Ramachandran?
Vilayanur Subramanian Ramachandran is neuroscientist who has made very large contributions to the psychology and neuroscience field. Ramachandran was lucky enough to have wonderfully unique patients to work with to help him understand the way the brain works. Ramachandran didn’t use many new technologies but still he contributed new understanding even through his observation and simple experiments. Ramachandran is a testimate that no matter how strange and bizarre a person’s case, there is a neurological explanation. Although Dr. Ramachandran covers many neurological cases in the book, I wish to focus on the interesting findings of phantom pregnancy (pseudocyesis) and human laughter. I found these to be interesting, and they are wonderful examples of how the brain processes reality .The I-function, specifically, helps us to comprehend how signals input to the box are then changed to outputs. The I-function

The definition of reality is “the world or the state of things, as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them” (Oxford dictionaries, page one.) Many people have altered views of reality. When people have a mental illness, it's typically because the reality they see is different than the norm. The I-function’s basic purpose is to partition our personally perceived reality from what truly is reality.  As such, the I-function is any conviction of self. Phantom Pregnancy

In the chapter, you forgot to deliver the twin; it touches on the topic of pseudonocyesis. There is a story about a woman named Mary who is living proof that the mind can be pregnant.  Mary who was nine months pregnant began to have “contractions” and went to see her doctor. Dr. Monroe began to examine her to assure that the birth would go smoothly, when he noted some unusual symptoms. Although her breasts were enlarged and her stomach protruding, he could not get a reading on the heartbeat of the fetus. A sure sign of pregnancy is an extroverted belly button; unfortunately, Mary’s was introverted. Dr. Monroe realized that Mary was suffering from phantom pregnancy. People with pseudonocyesis believe whole heartedly that they are pregnant, and simply cannot except that they are not. So Dr. Monroe being a very intelligent physician told Mary he would give her anesthesia to assure her comfort during the birth. When she awoke he told her that the baby was stillborn, which she accepted. The brain is very complex and it’s hard to grasp someone actually showing signs of pregnancy and believing they are pregnant when not. Ramachandran (1998) states that is due to low self-esteem, and operant conditioning. New studies, and discoveries to better comprehensions of science itself. Ramachandran beautifully explains the different paths he took to get the answers, to the mysteries of the brain.

Human Laughter
The brain has many systems and many functions, all of which play an important part in our everyday lives. If one part of the brain is hurt, the rest can be affected, like dominoes. Ramachandran believes the limbic system is where laughter initiates, to be exact; the hypothalamus, the mammillary bodies, and cingulate gyrus in the limbic system. The limbic participates in producing many emotions.

In the book, Phantoms in the Brain, the chapter titled “The Woman Who Died of Laughter”, Ramachandran gives a story about a man named Willy. Willy’s mother died of unknown causes, and the chapter opens with Willy attending his mother's funeral. In a  situation like this, people generally morn, miss their parent and shed tears. But no, not Willy, he begins to laugh, and once started he cannot stop, so he laughs hysterically. His family is appalled and confused, so they take him to the doctor.  The...

References: Ramachandran, V.S. (1998) Phantoms in the Brain. New York : HarperCollins,
Ramachandran, V.S & Rogers-Ramachandran, D. (2002) Phantom limbs and neural plasticity. Archives of Neurology, 57 (317-320)
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