Terri Schiavo Question

Carey Gregory tiredofspam123 at comcast.net
Sat Mar 26 23:41:45 EST 2005


Steven O. <null at null.com> wrote:

>First of all, according to the best available public evidence, is
>Terri Schiavo's cerebral cortex completely, totally liquified, or has
>there instead been a major loss of cortical tissue but with some
>tissue remaining.

Not totally, but a significant portion is gone now and replaced with CSF.

>Second -- would it be possible for oxygen deprivation to cause loss of
>the cerebral cortext, but for the lower brain centers to remain more
>or less intact?  That is, can the cerebellum, limbic system, and
>mid-brain remain pretty much functional and alive?

Yes.

>And, if yes, is there any evidence as to how much of Terri Schiavo's
>lower brain centers remain active?

She breathes and regulates blood pressure and pulse, so her lower brain is
clearly functioning.  

>Finally -- and here is the real kicker -- if the cerebral cortex is
>gone, but the other brain centers remain alive, is there any
>possibility that some kind of primitive experience continues, even
>with all cortical-based thinking gone?

Well, no way to know with certainty, of course, but ask someone who's been
under anesthesia if they had a primitive experience.  Even before amnesia
agents, the answer would have been no.  So even if they did experience
something primitive, it appears to be irrelevant to life as we know it.

>My understanding is that some lower animals have no cortical brain at
>all, yet one would assume they still have some kind of experience or
>awareness.  So, I am wondering if that could be the case for TS.

She is responsive to physical stimuli, but so is an earthworm.  Does an
earthworm know it is an earthworm?  Does it have thoughts and cares and
desires?  Well, I don't think so, but that's un-provable.  What I do know is
we would question the value of heroic surgical methods for keeping one
alive.




More information about the Neur-sci mailing list