Incognito, Pt 3

Eagleman in Incognito, with Mrs. G., recovering from a severe stroke:

When I asked her to close her eyes, she said “Okay,” and closed one eye, as in a permanent wink.
“Are your eyes closed?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Both eyes?”
I held up three fingers. “how many fingers am I holding up, Mrs. G.?”
“Three,” she said.
“And your eyes are closed?”
“Then how did you know how many fingers I was holding up?”
An interesting silence followed

I wheeled Mrs. G in front [of a mirror] and asked if she could see her own face. She said yes. I then asked her to close both her eyes. Again she closed one eye and not the other.
“Are both your eyes closed?”
“Can you see yourself?”
“Does it seem possible to see yourself in the mirror if both your eyes are closed?”
Pause. No conclusion.
“Does it look to you like one eye is closed or that both are closed?”
Pause. No conclusion.
Well, duh. How can she answer that question when both her eyes are closed? :)

Even though it’s profitable to model our brains as collections of autonomous semi-intelligent programs, there’s still coordination. In healthy people, only one motor program runs at once. Half of your body doesn’t try to eat the cake while the other half tries to restrain it. Half of you doesn’t run away while the other half fights. Something mediates.

It’s thought that the left hemisphere constantly produces explanations (confabulations) for what we’re feeling, doing, and seeing. In severely damaged brains (e.g. communication between hemispheres severed completely - always interesting), the explanations (of what the non-connected half of the body is seeing/doing) seem like lies, but really the explaining part has no awareness of the truth, and apparently no shame - always producing the best explanation it can, without admitting failure.