1.10. An Operation on the Brain – Scoville’s Viewpoint

You are now in the skin of William Scoville and you are a scientist who’s fascinated by patients with epilepsy.

You’ve treated epileptic patients before Henry, who has has arrived at your hospital. But what you haven’t told Henry is that all the patients prior to him have all been classed as psychotics. Therefore, any assessment of before and after is extremely skewed as seeing any improvement in condition is extremely difficult.

You have been influenced by the scientist Karl Lashley.

Lashley believed that memory was like scattered seeds planted throughout brain. His experiments with the mind began with trained rats finding food in a maze. He then sliced and diced the brains of these living rats and made them run the maze with parts of their mind missing.

Through these experiments with the rats, Lashley observed that although removing large parts of the brain had effects on acquiring and retaining knowledge, there seemed be no specific area of the brain that was the core of memory.

As Scoville, in your own experiments on human subjects, so far you believe Lashley to be right.

When Henry comes before you, you decided to remove a part of the brain called the Hippocampus.

In September 1953 you decide to remove two thirds of his Hippocampus.

With your strong belief in the work of Lashley, you begin to slice away at Henry’s brain.

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