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1. Basic Considerations of Neuroanatomy.

List of figures for neuroanatomy

1.1 Gross levels of brain anatomy

There 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, 1988).

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 function

Although 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 Neuropsychology

Studies 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 perception

Evidence 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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