Julian Jaynes Society Discussion Forum: Exploring Consciousness and the Bicameral Mind Theory since 1997

Jaynes's Neurological Model Vindicated
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Author:  Moderator [ Mon Feb 28, 2005 3:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Jaynes's Neurological Model Vindicated

When Jaynes’s neurological model for the bicameral mind was first proposed, both he and his critics conceded that it would be decades before progress in neuroscience could validate or disprove it.

Well, the evidence is now in: several neuroimaging studies show activation in the right and left temporal lobes during hallucinations in schizophrenic patients.

To quote one recent study: "AVHs [auditory verbal hallucinations] were associated with increased metabolic activity in the left primary auditory cortex and the right middle temporal gyrus. Our results suggest a possible interaction between these areas during AVHs."

You couldn’t ask for a more clear vindication of Jaynes’s neurological model.

See: Neuroimaging of Auditory Hallucinations / Hallucinations and the Right Temporal Lobe. The significance of these studies for Jaynes's neurological model has also been written up in Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness.

Perhaps someone should contact these neuroscientists to find out if they are aware of the significance of their research to Jaynes's theory.


Author:  Soupdragon [ Tue Mar 08, 2005 4:22 pm ]
Post subject:  RE: Jaynes's Neurological Model Vindicated

Well, I think this adds weight to his ideas, but I doubt that the neuroscientists would necessarily see it the same way? The ideas are, after all, as revolutionary now as they were then.

I wonder, therefore, how they might be explained away in order to fit the prevailing paradigm. I think the rationalizations would go something like:

1. These regions account for religious experiences.
2. They are an undesirable vestige of earlier evolutionary stages of man.
3. Now we are more logical and rational creatures, we know better than to be ruled by superstition, and have less need for these regions of the brain.

How might such strident rationalizations be countered?

Author:  Moderator [ Fri Mar 11, 2005 7:39 pm ]
Post subject:  RE: Jaynes's Neurological Model Vindicated

While it certainly does not "prove" Jaynes's theory, research supportive of his neurological model is important evidence.

I don't think objections or alternate explanations would even be that sophisticated. It's hard to imagine what the response would be. It's pure speculation but my guess is most would probably acknowledge that indeed the right temporal lobe is involved in hallucinations but stubbornly maintain that this fact does not provide evidence for any larger framework for explaining the origin of hallucinations, and leave it at that.

I am not aware of any compelling theory on the origin of hallucinations other than Jaynes's. As far as I know, mainstream researchers study and treat hallucinations but have no theory as to why they occur (other than just the non-explanatory catch-all of "brain malfunction"). There are some ideas such as an external attribution of internal thoughts, which to me is unconvincing.

If someone has more info on this please let me know.

Author:  dean pappas [ Sun Apr 02, 2006 1:29 pm ]
Post subject: 

I centered my art therapy thesis (2001) around Origin (Perception and Consciousness in the Eyes of Art Therapy).

As I am coming from a clinical perspective, I have been using right and left righting (mimicking right and left brain work) and narrative approaches with a client labeled schizophrenic. My (totally unsubstantiated) theory is that by increasing communication between the hemispheres, schizophrenic symptoms might subside (sadly, my client moved out of state, but we were making great progress).

If anyone has thoughts or especially literature they can turn me on to, that would be great. In the meantime, what schools are doing the most valuable work on consciousness? and are any Jaynes-oriented?


Dean Pappas

As I am working on another Master's I would appreciate any tips on literature: my major fascination is the work Jaynes quotes Marbe doing...I tried to access his studies but they are all in German. Does anyone have knowledge of English versions?


Author:  Uncle Bob [ Tue Mar 20, 2007 10:28 pm ]
Post subject:  RE: Karl Marbe

I hope this helps:


Author:  rajah524 [ Mon Nov 05, 2007 3:39 am ]
Post subject:  Bilateral Trauma Treatment Protocol / EMDR

The notion of improving bilateral communication is the underpinning of the most widely used treatment for combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder used by the VA hospital system nationwide for about 15 years now. It is widely called Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) (see Shapiro and Leeds) but actually includes auditory and tactile stimulations as well as eyeball ping-pong to compel traumatic memories to jump the corpus callosum from right to left and back again in an attempt to strengthen the looping up to and back from the emotion-regulation centers on both sides of the pre-frontal cortex. Allan Schore's published research in the '90s and '00s is germane, as is James Masterson's (and his students') work published in 2005.

Author:  Moderator [ Wed Nov 26, 2008 1:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Intra-Hemispheric Communication


You might also take a look at Fredric Schiffer's Of Two Minds: The Revolutionary Science of Dual-Brain Psychology, although I remain skeptical of some of his claims.

Author:  ebuchman [ Tue Feb 10, 2009 7:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jaynes's Neurological Model Vindicated

There is a molecule made in the pineal gland in the human brain called DMT. This molecule can also be extracted from certain types of plants. When smoked, on the order of around 30 - 50 mg, DMT causes incredibly intense hallucinatory activity. Let me summarize: THERE IS A PSYCHEDELIC/HALLUCINOGENIC COMPOUND MADE IN THE BRAIN ON A DAILY BASIS. Furthermore, and this is the kicker, schizophrenics are found to have higher levels of DMT in their blood than non-schizophrenic individuals.
Could the connections be any more obvious?
DMT as the neural substrate for hallucinations?! I think the evidence is far too convincing

I actually made a post like this in the religion section under origin of the gods where I wrote a longgggg paragraph on the possible use of "magic mushrooms" (which contain the psychoactive alkaloid called Psilocybin) in early human evolution. Psilocybin perhaps catalyzed the rapid expansion of culture and may have had a thing or two to do with hallucinations (on large enough doses of psilocybin, the effects are similar to DMT). But personally, I fell in love with the fact that there's a compound of AWSOME hallucinatory power in the brain, and I think it could explain so much. Anyway, I wrote a bit more about the topic in that other post...

Anybody heard of any of this before? I'm on to something people, this is important information! DMT could very well be the molecule underlying the bicameral mind.

Author:  rajah524 [ Wed Feb 11, 2009 2:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Jaynes's Neurological Model Vindicated

Nothing in the following material advances the -particular- nature of the neurobiological views expressed in this forum, but may trigger something in your combined consciousness:

Julian Jaynes and the Raging Borderlines

"Although reasoning has improved, the overall way in which the mind functions hasn't," one of my correspondants wrote.

Reasoning -has- improved, but the long song-and-dance between [name] and myself about Jaynes is really a discourse on a respected theory in which "culturally normal" mind function -has- changed since the bicameral era.

What Jaynes was saying was 1) that "reasoning" is a product of consciousness (or more accurately what we began calling "meta-cognition" or "thinking about thinking" about 30 years ago), and 2) that the folks of 3,000 and more years ago did -not- think about their thinking, they just, well, -thought-.

Further, he asserts that they believed (possibly because it was the cultural norm to do so) that people's thoughts about what to -do- in a given sitiation were "put into their heads" by the "gods."

What makes this interesting to some of us in the field -nowadays- is the similarity of this notion to what we actually see in practice with people who are psychotic or semi-psychotic (sort of but not quite a.k.a.: "borderline"). (There are also, er, "cultural" implications here, if you catch my drift.) Beyond that, and very much what we see in the classic borderline -is- a lack of thinking about thinking that we call "concretism" after the work of an early 20th century observer named Jean Piaget (Google him up; he'll be there).

It's clear (to some of us, at least) that people who have grave difficulties with reality do so in no small part because they have little or no sense of abstract conceptualization, let alone the ability to consciously form a hypothesis and test it in the real world. We used to think these borderline people flipped back and forth between more developed parts of their minds that -did- conceptualize and reason well (say, on the job) and "regression" to less developed, infant of "toddler" minds that -didn't- conceptualize (say, in intimate relationships that resemble those with their parents). Now we're beginning to wonder, however, if they have completely discrete, "dual systems" of processing running in parallel that process -everything- they experience one way -and- another, but that's a -huge- subject in itself.

The long and short of it all is simply that most -healthy- people only resort to conceptualization, abstraction and meta-cognition when they are really challenged to do so. That said, if the documented history of human literature is a reliable indicator, it looks like almost -no- one was doing this until 3,000 years ago, and very few were doing it until about 500 years ago. To get a sense of the former, compare the bibilical books of the law to the gospels, and especially to the epistles. To get a sense of the latter, compare Chaucer (a mere reporter) to Shakespeare (a sophisticated analyst).

"...anger occurs when a perception one has in the mind is not repeated when expected..."

Major GBU hit right through the air conditioning shaft. I used to lecture the half-awake recovering alkies at a famed treament facility in California years ago. I was looking for something about Wilson's notion of anger that would stick (or at least, break through the clutter). Wilson was very big on "resentment" as an underlying driver of substance abuse. Thus, I stumbled onto "Expectations are resentments in training." (I have written a lot since then, but that's probably the single sentence anyone will ever remember me for.)

"...just knowing why one behaves in a certain way does not mean that a cure is possible."

Another bingo. And this one illustrates the Great Failing of Freudian psychoanalysis. Insight is great, but it only gets you... insight. Or, as another guy named Rosenberg put it in the '70s, "Understanding is the booby prize."

This is why we emphasize identification of the (let's say "resentful") appraisal, evaluation, interpretation or attribution in the "moment of reaction." And why we want to trace it back to the -conceptual- core belief, idea, value, assumption or attitude buried in the unconscious that reliably -programs- the person to appraise, evaluate, interpret or attribute as he or she does.

What I just explained above -is- the difference between "primary and secondary perceptual reality," btw.

...and in response to an admonition to read a book on cognitive theory in depth:

After reading a lengthier review of Lakoff and Johnson at http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/lakoff.htm, I can see why you would feel so strongly about it from a philosophical standpoint. I have to admit, however, that I am more of a "mechanic" or an "engineer" than a "theorist." (Perhaps I should -be- more of theorist; in whatever event, however...) My concerns are with the circular feedback looping of lingual processing of incoming stimuli, affective responses thereto which are based upon value-assignments, resultant (especially interpersonal) behavior, and the specific rewards that either reinforce or extinguish that behavior.

I may well be compelled to dig into the theories of metaphorical representation, but for the moment. the task at hand is to develop a means of intervention into the thought-emotion-behavior-reward-reinforcement loop that reliably produces a very rapid change in behavior, because -behavior- is all anyone "out there" cares about.

That said, my applications of Jaynes' notions are really about manipulating the hemispheric physiology to accomplish a reworking of fundamental evaluations of phenomena all the way down to (if we can get there) how "the voices of the 'gods' in our heads" are interpreted. For me, those evaluative "god voices" are the unexamined "directors" of both affects (emotions and sensations) and actions.

I (currently) see the "god voices" as having been "formed" during such experiences as the oral-trust phase of life in infancy and the anal-autonomy phase of toddlerhood in response to interactions with parents (mostly the mother, of course) who were either effective or ineffective at providing an interactive experience that supported -accurate- evaluation of phenomena in the environment.

Thus, while I may be limited by my learning acquisitions at this point, I am forced by the politics of psychology to build my case upon data others in the field readily understand (and agree with).

In answer to the post: "So my question for this thread as the forum has taken a welcome psychological turn lately is what exactly is the reason that the left and right brain are differentiated?"

Squished to it's essence, my take on the Darwinian-cum-cybernetic-cum-Jaynesian view is that survival depended upon a combination of symbolic logic and the capacity to react to threats sufficiently well to -drive- the development of symbolic logic. "Consciousness," by the way, is what Jaynes felt was the -result- of looping sensory awareness with symbolic logic.

In most right-handed people, the right hemisphere of the brain is the reactor to threats, while the left hemisphere is the repository of symbol processing. There are exceptions, of course, but modern computer-imaged, radiation tomography appears to verify these notions. We can actually see "hot" and "cold" spots of chemical activity relative to stimulations of threat and other emotional "triggers." We can also see "hot" and "cold" spots where the logic centers are, as well as the memory centers that feed data on "earlier / similar" circumstances. (I am -grossly- oversimplifying these processes, but the essence is accurate.)

From the Darwinian perspective, as well, survival depended upon having "two brains" so that if one hemisphere or the other was traumatized enough to prevent effective function, the other could pick up the slack. When this occurs in the real world, however, it is evident that either logical or affective (roughly = emotional + sensory) expressions of brain function are "lost" and require "re-learning" over time, depending upon the location of the trauma. But what we very often see in such people, is that function changes so much that "personality" is often affected in pretty evident ways.

Author:  Memento Mori [ Tue Apr 28, 2009 5:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jaynes's Neurological Model Vindicated


Author:  rajah524 [ Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jaynes's Neurological Model Vindicated

Memento: See Spreen, Risser & Edgell: Developmental Neuropsychology, New York: Oxford University Press, 1995; which provides a deeper grounding on the articles you found.

The assertions in the articles you found are consonant with the preponderance of genetic expression for lateralization of both "dream states" and "primary (affective) processing" thereof in the right hemisphere for most right-handed people.

Secondary (cognitive) processing is likely to occur in the dominant motor hemisphere, which means the left for most right-handed people.

With respect to borderline personality organization, very recent fMRI scanning and electrical stimulation experiments suggest the probability of a "battle for supremacy" between two or more equally "emotional reasoning" factions in memory and processing circuits looping to and from the limbic system in the right hemisphere of most right-handed people.

It is further sugessted that this looping is not crossing the corpus callosum so that it can be effectively modulated by the more "rational-empirical reasoning" capacities in the left hemisphere of most right-handed people.

The effectiveness of the bi-lateral trauma treatments like "EMDR" with anxiety-dominated, borderline personality disorder patients may well rest on these treatments' known ability to cause the necessary "bridging" to occur.

Everything here sits well with Jaynes' views.

Author:  Memento Mori [ Thu May 28, 2009 10:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Jaynes's Neurological Model Vindicated


Author:  rajah524 [ Thu May 28, 2009 2:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jaynes's Neurological Model Vindicated

I don't actually know the answer to your question, but if you're looking for greater "neurobiological evidence" to support Jaynes's notions about the a/c connection between the hallucinatory area and Wernicke's Area shown on p. 104 of Jaynes, see...


...which is at least indirectly germane, if you can read between the lines.

Gazzaniga's "great book" on the topic is Gazzaniga, M.; Ivry, R.; Mangun, G.: Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the Mind, 2nd Edition, New York: W.W. Norton, 2002; and I think I recall discussion of the a/c's specific roles therein. (I don't have the book here, or I'd look.)

My interest in Jaynes has largely to do with the development of modern, neurobiologically-supported cognitive therapies, as opposed to neurosurgery for seizure disorders. See...


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