Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/198

This page has been validated.



wise served to explain some curious forms of expression common to man and the lower animals. The common tendency, when any strong exertion is made with the right hand, to retract the angle of the mouth and open the mouth on the same side, had been stated by Oken, in his "Natur-geschichte" to be due to the homology between the upper limbs and the upper jaw; the true explanation being that the movements of the fist and of the mouth are in such close relation to each other that, when one is made to act powerfully, the impression diffuses itself to the neighboring part of the brain, and the two act together.

The experiments have likewise a physiological significance. There is reason to believe that, when the different parts of the brain are stimulated, ideas are excited in the animals experimented upon, but it is difficult to say what the ideas are. There is, no doubt, a close relation between certain muscular movements and certain ideas, which may prove capable of explanation. This is supported by the phenomena of epileptic insanity. The most important guide on the psychological aspect of the question is the disease known as aphasia. The part of the brain which is the seat of the memory of words is that which governs the movements of the mouth and the tongue. In aphasia, the disease is generally on the left side of the brain, in the posterior part of the inferior frontal convolution, and it is generally associated with paralysis of the right hand, and the reason might be supposed to be that the part of the brain affected is nearly related to the part governing the movements of the right hand.

It is essential to remember that the movements of the mouth are governed bi-laterally from each hemisphere. The brain is symmetrical, and I hold it to be a mistake to suppose that the faculty of speech is localized on the left side of the brain. The reason why an individual loses his speech when the left side of the brain is diseased is simply this: Most persons are right-handed, and therefore left-brained, the left side of the brain governing the right side of the body. Men naturally seize a thing with the right hand, they naturally therefore use rather the left side of the brain than the right, and when there is disease, there the individual feels like one who has suddenly lost the use of his right arm.

I may, finally, briefly allude to the results of stimulating the different ganglia. Stimulation of the corpora striata causes the limbs to be flexed; the optic thalami produces no result: the corpora quadrigemina produce, when the anterior tubercles are acted upon, an intense dilatation of the pupil, and a tendency to draw back the head and extend the limbs as in opisthotonos; while the stimulation of the posterior tubercles leads to the production of all kinds of noises. By stimulating the cerebellum, various movements of the eyeballs are produced.—Nature.