June 8, 2010 – post 3

Personal Fears and The Unknown

I’ve been fascinated by the idea that the function of the right temporal lobe is not very well known. There is an awful lot about life that we don’t know: what’s the difference between creative types and less-creative types? (I don’t believe there are any non-creative types.) What’s the difference between atheists and believers? Between nerds and sports fans? Between consumers and producers? “Personality” of course, is the generic answer. But, come on. That word covers a lot of territory. Inborn traits. God-given mission. Chemical predelictions. Which is it? All? None of the above?

I found some fascinating bits when I was researching right-temporal lobe function. One of the things I found is that some scientists find religious ecstatic experiences to be related to right-temporal lobe dysfunction. There is also some evidence that musical memory and pattern recognition reside there. This is scary when talking about a kid who wants to write comedy and one of whose favorite pasttimes is listening to Weird Al’s parodies.

Would most people miss their musical memory or their “feelings of detachment, ineffable contentment, visualizing a bright light recognized as the source of all knowledge, and seeing ‘Jesus Christ'”? Who knows? And are these scientists even correct in making that connection? Who knows? Do I think Lisa’s quality of life will be better or worse after surgery that puts these things at risk? Better. I still think it’s the right call. This is all still theory anyway – I don’t find any evidence (in the bits of medical information I can get to on the Internet anyway) that says “take out the lobe and lose your ability to enjoy music”. But, it does give me something to be concerned about.

If any of this is interesting to you, here’s some links you might want to look at.

EXCERPT: “Many of the experiences in temporal lobe epileptics involve phenomena such as deja vu, jamais vu, memory recall, and visual and auditory hallucinations.(Palmini 1992, So 1993). Feelings of religious ecstacy (Williams 1956) and double consciousness, meaning the simultaneous experience of one’s ordinary consciousness and the perception of another reality are again linked to right temporal lobe epilepsy.(Mendez 1996). Religious conversion is also described. (Dewhurst 1970). Finally, Morgan (1990) makes a direct correlation between the religious ecstasies reported in the works of Dostoyevsky and seizures caused by a right temporal lobe astrocytoma. The latter involved feelings of detachment, ineffable contentment, visualizing a bright light recognized as the source of all knowledge, and seeing “Jesus Christ”.”

EXCERPT: “Right Lobe – Mainly involved in visual memory (i.e., memory for pictures and faces).”

EXCERPT: “Right side lesions result in decreased recognition of tonal sequences and many musical abilities. Right side lesions can also effect recognition of visual content (e.g. recall of faces).”

EXCERPT: “Temporal Lobe Damage: If the right temporal lobe is damaged, memory for sounds and shapes tends to be impaired.”


One thought on “June 8, 2010 – post 3

  1. Very interesting info Mike. I would think more would be known about the temporal lobe. I hope you all are holding up. Enjoying your updates, and please keep us posted, we may be in cleveland while you’re still there. ~kim


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