Mens Sana Monographs
: 2011  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 129--149

Understanding brain, mind and soul: Contributions from neurology and neurosurgery

Sunil K Pandya 
 M.S. Neurosurgeon, Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre, Dr. G. V. Deshmukh Marg, Mumbai, 400026, India

Correspondence Address:
Sunil K Pandya
11, Shanti Kuteer, Marine Drive, Mumbai - 400 020

Treatment of diseases of the brain by drugs or surgery necessitates an understanding of its structure and functions. The philosophical neurosurgeon soon encounters difficulties when localising the abstract concepts of mind and soul within the tangible 1300-gram organ containing 100 billion neurones. Hippocrates had focused attention on the brain as the seat of the mind. The tabula rasa postulated by Aristotle cannot be localised to a particular part of the brain with the confidence that we can localise spoken speech to Broca«SQ»s area or the movement of limbs to the contralateral motor cortex. Galen«SQ»s localisation of imagination, reasoning, judgement and memory in the cerebral ventricles collapsed once it was evident that the functional units-neurones-lay in the parenchyma of the brain. Experiences gained from accidental injuries (Phineas Gage) or temporal lobe resection (William Beecher Scoville); studies on how we see and hear and more recent data from functional magnetic resonance studies have made us aware of the extensive network of neurones in the cerebral hemispheres that subserve the functions of the mind. The soul or atman, credited with the ability to enliven the body, was located by ancient anatomists and philosophers in the lungs or heart, in the pineal gland (Descartes), and generally in the brain. When the deeper parts of the brain came within the reach of neurosurgeons, the brainstem proved exceptionally delicate and vulnerable. The concept of brain death after irreversible damage to it has made all of us aware of «SQ»the cocktail of brain soup and spark«SQ» in the brainstem so necessary for life. If there be a soul in each of us, surely, it is enshrined here.

How to cite this article:
Pandya SK. Understanding brain, mind and soul: Contributions from neurology and neurosurgery.Mens Sana Monogr 2011;9:129-149

How to cite this URL:
Pandya SK. Understanding brain, mind and soul: Contributions from neurology and neurosurgery. Mens Sana Monogr [serial online] 2011 [cited 2020 Jun 4 ];9:129-149
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