Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/22

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12
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

infant which lived eighteen hours. Respiration was established, but the child did not cry. Nevertheless, it was not insensible. Light impressed the eyes, for the pupils acted. A bitter juice put into the mouth was immediately rejected. Loud noises caused movements of the body. On post-mortem examination, there was found no vestige of either cerebrum or cerebellum, but the medulla oblongata and pons Varolii existed. There were no olfactory nerves; the optic nerves were atrophied, and the third and fourth pairs were wanting; all the other cranial nerves were present.

Ollivier d'Angers describes a monster of the female sex which lived twenty hours. It cried, and could suck and swallow. There was no brain, but the spinal cord and medulla oblongata were well developed.

Saviard relates the particulars of a case in which there were no cerebrum, cerebellum, or any other intracranial ganglion. The spinal cord began as a little red tumor on a level with the foramen magnum. Yet this being opened and shut its eyes, cried, sucked, and even ate broth. It lived four days.

Mr. Lawrence has published the details of a very interesting case in which there was no brain. But the excito-motory functions were well performed. The child moved briskly and gave evidence of feeling pain. Its breathing and temperature were natural, and it took food. Movements such as these do not afford evidence of a very high degree of intellect, but they are precisely such as are performed by all new-born infants possessed of brains. If they are not indicative of the existence of mind, we must deny this force to all human beings on their entrance into the world.

But we are not obliged to rest on the phenomena afforded by anencephalic monsters for all the evidence that the spinal cord of man is a center of perception and volition. We have only to observe the manifestations of its action which are of daily occurrence in our own persons. And in bringing them to your notice I shall quote from a little work on "Sleep and its Derangements," which I wrote a few years ago:

"If an individual engaged in reading a book allows his mind to be diverted to some other subject than that of which he is reading, he continues to see the words, which, however, make no impression on his brain, and he turns over the leaf whenever he reaches the bottom of the page, with as much regularity as though he comprehended every word he had read. He suddenly, perhaps, brings back his mind to the subject of his book, and then he finds that he has perused several pages without having received the slightest idea of their contents.

"Again, when, for instance, we are walking in the street and thinking of some engrossing circumstance, we turn the right corner and find ourselves where we intended to go, without being able to recall any of the events connected with the act of getting there."