Split Consciousness

[From (Richard Thurman 960424.1310)]

Bruce Gregory (960424.1010 EDT)

The Sperry and Gazzaniga work always fascinated me, but I hadn't
thought of it in this context.

Yes, I think it was fascinating too. bad the pop psychology folks got
ahold of it and used it as a tool for their own purposes. It seems to me
that one must almost apologize for bringing it up these days. Too much
hemispheric dominance pop psych for my taste. . . . I was almost expecting
a nasty response for bringing up such trash.

I was particularly taken with the
notion that the running monologue inside our heads might be a "voice
over" attempting to make sense of the actions we take in trying to
achieve our goals. This certainly seems consistent with a link
between the existence of HPC systems and consciousness.

I am not quite sure what you mean. But I interpret that statement as
somewhat the same thing I was trying to get across this morning. That the
"voice over" is some sort of verbalized attention 'feedback function' that
is a side effect of hierarchical control. Perhaps we become internally
aware of a group of control systems which are experiencing error or are
experiencing an increase in gain. Our attention is drawn to it and some
running dialogue (evidently in the left hemisphere) begins its

Here is an analogous situation from the post-commissurotomy studies.
Remember that Gazzaniga presented the word "laugh" to the right hemisphere
of a subject and the subject laughed. When asked why he laughed, the
subject said something like "You guys come all the way up here to do these
tests every month. What a strange job." It seems the left brain of the
subject made up the reason because it did not have access to the right
brain's instructions. Could this be going on every time we verbalize
internally? We are just making up reasons for doing what our control
systems do?

I can't
think how to even begin to put this relationship into a form that
would permit experimental progress, however.

I have something brewing but cant quite articulate it yet. It seems to me
that perhaps the method of levels can be used here. I am wondering if the
observer (I believe that is what Bill P calls it) that shows itself near
the end of a 'method of levels' session is in reality the right brain. I
saw Bill do the method of levels two years ago at the CSG meeting. I
admit that I was (and am) skeptical and I cannot seem to do it myself.
But what I saw was the subject topping out by saying that awareness had
shifted to an observer that did not care or judge -- just watched. If
this is the right brain then we should be able to perform experiments to
determine that. No let me back up -- if it is the right brain then it
indeed may feel and judge, its just not able to articulate it like the
left brain. One should be able to do tests to determine if the "observer"
can feel and judge by giving it a nonverbal means of doing so.

Here is a paragraph from the book "The Modular Brain" that may show the
way to do this experiment:

In a typical experiment testing the separate abilities
of the two hemispheres, a split brain subject is shown
what neuroscientists call a chimeric picture: the half
of two different photos joined together in the midline
to make double picture. One chimeric picture, for
example, shows the right face of the actress Catherine
Deneuve joined to the left face of an elderly Italian
worker from Fisherman's Warf in San Francisco. When
the subject looks a the chimeric picture, the actress
is seen by the right hemisphere while the bushy-browed
fisherman is seen by the left hemisphere. The subject
is asked to identify what he has just seen. The answer
depends on how the inquiry is conducted. If the
subject is asked, "Point to what you saw," the subject
chooses the picture of the actress. This is because
the right hemisphere is utilized in tests of facial
recognition. But if, instead, the subject is asked
"What did you see?" he or she answers "A man with dark
hair and heavy bushy eyebrows." Words, sentences, and
questions bring the left hemisphere into play.

Maybe all that is necessary is to get the subject to the "observer" state
and ask them to describe what they feel, or think by pointing to pictures
instead of talking. The observer may actually be quite judgmental -- and
quite inarticulate.

Or maybe I'm a space cadet.



Richard Thurman
Armstrong Lab
Mesa AZ.
(602) 988-6561

[From Bruce Gregory (960425.1430 EDT)]

(Richard Thurman 960424.1310)

  Could this be going on every time we verbalize internally?
  We are just making up reasons for doing what our control
  systems do?

That is the point I was trying to make, but not as clearly as you
stated it. See my post to Bill P. for an earlier example from
hypnotic studies. Feynman also had a few interesting things to say
about post-hypnotic suggestions in one of his biographical books.

Bruce G.