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1.1 Gross levels of brain anatomyThere is a very obvious though crude differentiation between brain-stem, limbic
system, basal ganglia, limbic system, cortex, etc. An important single distinction is that between
cortical and subcortical processing. It can be related
to differences between: mandatory and optional processing; controlled and automatic process;
voluntary and involuntary actions.
1.2 Left-right differences between hemispheres. This will not be examined comprehensively, but is one of the commonest
examples of psychological differences attributed to differences brain regions: global versus
local; course or fine scale; spatial/verbal.
1.3 “Front-to-back” differences within cerebral cortex.This is a rough and ready way of referring to contrasts between secondary and
primary regions of sensory cortex, or more subtle differences between the function of
anatomically separate “areas” or “maps” of sensory (or motor) cortex. The main example here is
detailed analysis of how the visual system works . (E.g see Zeki, 1978, 1993; Zeki and Shipp,
1.4. Neurophysiology of the visual system.The general issue is inherently interdisciplinary, and therefore some account needs
to be taken of the nature of the neurophysiological evidence. The organization of the visual
system is the main case in point, and the summaries provided by Frisby (1979), Zeki, (1978)
and Hubel and Weisel (1977) are still useful sources for this. A more recent review is provided
by Zeki and Shipp (1988), and even more detail neuroanatomical findings are covered by
Livingstone (1988) and Hockfield et al (1990). An extension of the general principles
which apply in the case of the visual system to cortical organization more generally has often
been made (e.g. Kaas, 1997).
2. Other kinds of evidence.
2.1. In vivo studies of the localization of human brain functionAlthough there are methodological problems to be overcome, some of the most
compelling evidence for localization of function come from studies which use modern
techniques to measure brain activity while human subjects perform particular cognitive tasks.
Examples are the papers by Lueck et al (1989), Howard et al (1992), ffychte and Zeki
(1996) and Anderson et al (1996). The available technology for investigating the localized
activity of the brain in normal human subjects has developed dramatically over the last 10 years.
(See the separate page at the end summarising the main techniques: PET, fMRI, MEG etc).
2.2. Support from Cognitive NeuropsychologyStudies of individual patients (and patient groups) with brain damage broadly
support the general principle of a high degree of functional separation of components of
cognitive skills, although the degree of anatomical localization which can be inferred is limited,
and there are many other problems of interpretation. This area is covered in another option
module, but a particular example is category- and modality-specific naming deficits (Hart et
al, 1985; McCarthy and Warrington, 1988).
2.3. Experimental studies of perceptionEvidence from perceptual tasks performed by normal subjects can sometimes be
interpreted in terms of the functional consequences of anatomical arrangements discovered by
using neurophysiological techniques. E.g. Livingstone and Hubel (1987), Livingstone (1988),
McCleod et al (1988). More recently see Shimojo and Shams (2001).
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