This week's lecture has advanced us from a big box representing the nervous system to 10e12 smaller boxed interconnected components to even more specific terms of neurology. It's exciting to get closer and closer and to build up terms and vocabulary for the brain to help us understand brain and behavior, which can be a very dense and overwhelming topic.

This situation of the poor person with the broken neck has become a recurring example used to investigate the connections and intricacies of the nervous system through neurons when there is malfunction present in the information processing system. In this case, the person with the broken neck has an interruption between the cranial nerves and the spinal cord nerves. Thus the relay of information is handicapped, and we can explain why such a person would not say 'ouch' when their toe is pinched. We learned the basic responsibility of each of the 12 cranial nerves, and with this knowledge, we can see how the person would have no way of getting the motor neurons which control the throat and the tongue to say 'ouch' because information from the caudal end of the body could not be carried to the cranial nerves as a result of this gap in the system pathway. Additionally, if told to lift a leg, this person would not be able to perform such a task, because the cranial nerve which is responsible for auditory control is cut off from the caudal motor neurons. Thus we learn that there is a vital connection that must be maintained in the nervous system for it to properly work.

So, we can expect this person to have no control of the movement of their body below the neck region. Thus, I would conclude that this person would not be able to feel pain in the region of their body below the neck, such that if their hand was put in a flame, they would not sense the burn, and if they didn't know better from past experiences or from their own knowledge of the consequences of burns, they would not necessarily know to remove their hand from the flame. I bring this example up, because I remember hearing of a disorder which makes people insensitive to pain, who have to be very careful to not hurt themselves.

I can understand how frustrating this must be for the person with the broken neck because they can adequately hear and speak, but they still can't coordinate voluntary movement. It's difficult to understand, even with this basic knowledge of the nervous system, how although the person knows what to do, they are prevented from doing the task by this break in communication. We tend to think that such simple tasks are simply regulated, when in fact, there seem to be whole 'circuits' of information relay responsible for these actions.

The thought of the person with the broken neck is tragic- they can think and their brains still function in the previous capacity before the accident (if there was no damage to the head), thus they are able to perform 'higher thinking', but in a sense they are prevented from doing the most basic things such as simple movement.

It makes one wonder if there is such a way to 'learn' how to move again, as many healers promote faith and the thought of mind over matter, and in this case, the mind is intact and functioning.

Don't underestimate the spinal cord, which probably knows enough to pull the hand away from the flame whether or not the information about it reaches the brain. And there are, of course, ways that such people can move, using prosthetic devices. Maybe it could be done by mind over matter, but not if mind=brain=behavior. PG