I was mesmerized when you brought up the idea that we do not know if the spine is conscious because we can only talk to the brain/head. This brings back some of the mysteriousness into what we are studying. The idea of what is consciousness and how the input/output system works is pushed to its limits by this idea (we do not know if the spine feels pain when we give it input because we can only talk to the part of the person that did not receive the input).

We also discussed the idea that by damaging the nervous system, the thing you took away is not necessary (from behavior after the damage, it will show that the part was not necessary). How does this relate to Lashley's experiments that involved him taking out huge chunks of a rat's brain, and it was still able to follow out the task at hand. In other words, how does all of this relate to our ability to localize behavior to a specific area of the brain or nervous system?

Good question. What Lashley's experiments clearly showed was that the ability to do tasks, as he defined them, was not localized. What he (or at least others) inferred from that was that all parts of the nervous system do the same thing (i.e. NOTHING is localized). The latter is clearly not true. Damage to different areas of the nervous system produces different deficits. Therefore the different areas are doing different things (though exactly WHAT they are doing can't be specified in this particular way). The great challenge is to understand how different parts doing different things can lead (in general) to distributed functions (i.e. many different brain areas contributing to most tasks, behaviorally defined). That help? PG