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Madina G.'s picture

I-functions and corollary discharges

I found the discussions last week about corollary discharges really interesting. What struck me the most intriguing was the idea that no single part of the nervous system is in charge. This is a new concept for me and will take a while to let it sink in, since I'm used to considering the brain as the "control center" of the entire nervous system but I can see its direct application in nervous system functions. For example a study was completed to see if schizophrenia, a mental disorder in which the patient will often have auditory hallucinations, can be attributed to a failure in the presence of corollary discharges that are responsible for inhibiting a response to self-generated speech sounds, and concluded that this hypothesis held true(http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/158/12/2069).
To perhaps address the question of the I-function in this case, it is this particular lack of corollary discharges that allows for someone to believe that they are hearing voices. Part of our understanding of the I-function is that it all depends on whether or not the "cable" is connected from one area of our body where the sensory input occurs to the head where a speech output is generated. Similarly since corollary discharges are signals that transmit information to the brain that in turn generate a response, any disruption with the normal activity of corollary discharges has consequences on the I-function; in the case of schizophrenia, one would claim to hear voices, when someone who does not suffer from the disorder would have normal corollary discharge activity and consequently does not have the same claim.

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