Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 1.djvu/567
THE UNCONSCIOUS ACTION OF THE BRAIN.
We next pass to a set of centres somewhat higher, those which form the summit, as it were, of this spinal cord, which are really embedded in the brain, but which do not form a part of that higher organ, which is in fact the organ of the higher part of our mental nature, yet which are commonly included in that which we designate the brain. In fact, the anatomist who only studies the human brain is very liable to be misled in regard to the character of these different parts, by the fact that the higher part—that which we call the Cerebrum—is so immensely developed in Man, in proportion to the rest of the animal creation, that it envelops, as it were, the portion of which I am about to speak, concealing it, and reducing it apparently to the condition of a very subordinate part; and yet that subordinate part is, as I shall show you, the foundation or basis of the higher portion—the Cerebrum itself. The brain of a Fish consists of very little else than a series of these ganglia, these little knots the word "ganglion" means "knot," and the ganglia in many instances, when separated, are little knots, as it were, upon the nerves. The brain of a fish consists of a series of these ganglia, one pair belonging to each principal organ of sense. Thus we have in front the ganglia of smell, then the ganglia of sight, the ganglia of hearing, and ganglia of general sensation. These constitute almost entirely the brain of the fish. There is scarcely any thing in the brain of the fish which answers to the Cerebrum or higher part of the brain of man. I will give you an idea of the relative development of these parts. [Dr. Carpenter made other sketches on the black-board, to represent these ganglia of sense in man and the lower animals.] Now, the Cerebrum in most fishes is a mere little film, overlying the sensory tract, but in the higher fish we have it larger; in the reptiles we have it larger still; and in birds we have it still larger; in the lower mammalia it is larger still; and then as we ascend to man this part becomes so large in proportion that my board will not take it in. This Cerebrum, this great mass of the brain, at the bottom of which these Ganglia of Sense are buried, as it were, so overlies and conceals them that their essential functions for a long time remained unknown. Now, in the Cerebrum, the position of the active portion, what we call the ganglionic matter, that which gives activity and power to these nervous centres, is peculiar. In all ganglia this "gray" matter, as it is called, is distinct from the white matter. In ordinary ganglia, this gray matter lies in the interior as a sort of little kernel; but in the Cerebrum it is spread out over the surface, and forms a film or layer. If any of you have the curiosity to see what it is like, you have only to get a sheep's brain and examine it, and you will see this film of a reddish substance covering the surface of the Cerebrum. In the higher animals, and in man, this film is deeply folded upon itself, with the effect of giving it a very much more extended surface, and in this manner the blood-vessels come into relation with it; and it is by the changes which take place between this nervous matter and the blood that all