Monday, April 27, 2009

Your Hand is Your Hand, but without a Sense of Agency.

In Alien & Anarchic Hand Syndrome, the hand is capable of acting autonomously.

People who 'feel' that their hand, and even sometimes entire arm, is not their own often associate it with the arm of a loved one, family members most regularly. Generally, that familiar association lends the person a sense of great comfort.

As a side note, the woman in the hospital bed posted this. She was still in ICU when it was taken.


Anonymous said...

As a a side note, this is associated with isolation of the right hemisphere from the left (separation of the corpus collosum, the bundle of nerves between the left and right hemispheres of the brain). In your linked video, I first suspected a stroke near there when her left eye stayed closed while her right looked out and about.

Amazing video, thank you.

The location of the video (El Cerrito) makes me think she might be under the care of V.S. Ramachandran, a rather talented and brilliant neuroscientist.

- jb

tna said...

JB, I'm up in excitable arms that you've deduced that information, so thank you thank you. I watched this video three times in a row. If I hadn't been as terrible in science as I am, I would have loved neuroscience.

I got onto the idea by this great episode on Philosophy Bites. I think this is a link to it:

Truth be told, I listened to it via podcast while jogging and couldn't stop thinking about it all day. (I once read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat with equal vigor.) I might have let it go but a day or two later, but Smashley started talking about the hand being separate from the body as a metaphor I think for no particular reason. It was a sign.

Anonymous said...

If you look at the other videos posted, the subject (it feels impersonal calling her that, but still..) is giving a talk about her stroke, a little over a year after the hospital video was taken.

Sacks has several followup books to his classic "The Man..", including one on the brain and music. I still need to read it, just haven't had the time.


t. said...

Oh my gosh, JB, I watched them all. Thank you so much. Also, I found the Oliver Sacks section of my house, which is a neat little pile behind a big pile of old National Geographics. I think I have the book to which you refer. I'm sure you'll see more about it here later in some format or another!

Oh, as a side note, it was going back and looking at the video of the 'patient' again that I got a little addicted to the stretching videos. Somehow. So I owe you a triple thanks.