What are the implications if the spinal cord is severed? The person is conscious, but cannot move their arms, legs, etc. In terms of behavior, the spinal cord injury offers a view into how the brain and spinal cord are two distinct "boxes." The spinal cord is semiautonomous in that it carries out synaptic reflexes between sensory and motor neurons without consulting the brain. This is important in the event that you touch a hot object. Your hand will move away quickly without "... wasting time with cerebral debate." (Wallace and Sanders, p.820). The brain is the "box" that contains consciousness.

So these two boxes "talk" to each other in order to make the body walk, run, laugh, etc. Though thinking about spinal cord injuries has helped me to see to an even greater degree the semi-autononmous qualities of the brain and the spinal cord, I am left with many questions. What does it mean- that the spinal cord is severed? Is it still functional, just unable to communicate? After all, the brain is still functioning. Also, does the lower part of the body still respond to certain stimuli? Shouldn't it if it's semi-autononmous? I think I need to puzzle through this a little more.

You're very much puzzling along the right pathes. There are some significant complexities but, to a first approximation, yes "functional, just unable to communicate". And does still "respond" to certain stimuli. Understand which ones? And how that relates to distribution of sensory nerves? And how that and distribution of motor nerves means that we can say that rostral box "contains consciousness" but not that spinal cord doesn't? PG