The review of our Sunday, June 3rd meeting comes courtesy of Steve Grice.

Our video this morning was one in a series from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. This video was the first part of a lecture by Dr. E. Kandel entitled "Mapping Memory". Dr. Kandel addressed the question: Where are memories stored in the brain? He noted that memories and other brain functions need not be localized. These functions could be spread throughout the brain.

Dr. Kandel then gave a brief history of the science. Early researchers found that there were, indeed, localized areas. One localized area, discovered by Broca, seemed to be needed to express with language -- to write or speak. People with brain damage specific to this area could understand language, but could not express themselves in language. Another specific area, found later by Wernicke, was needed to understand any form of language -- spoken, written, and even sign language.

More recent research has used fMRI studies of increased blood flow to active areas of the brain. For example, a more recently discovered area seems to be specialized for face recognition.

In our discussion after the video, one question was: Is there really a specialized "God spot" in the brain, and are atheist deficient in this area? Some of our group suggested that one could have this feeling of transcendence without attributing it to any god. Others suggested that the god such experiences are attributed to might depend on one's surrounding culture. For example, such an experience might be attributed to a Hindu god if one was raised in India.


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