<b>From dynamic to behavioural lesions:</b> The relative merits and caveats of elucidating psychoanalysis with brain imaging

Amir Raz and Joanna B. Wolfson

in From the Couch to the Lab

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199600526
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754753 | DOI:
From dynamic to behavioural lesions: The relative merits and caveats of elucidating psychoanalysis with brain imaging

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Contemporary studies in the cognitive neuroscience of attention and suggestion shed new light on psychoanalytic concepts of yore. Recent findings from neuroimaging studies, for example, seem to revive the notion of dynamic lesions — those focal brain changes undetectable by anatomical scrutiny. Whereas nineteenth-century psychiatry attempted to apply the dynamic lesion model to disorders such as hysteria, contemporary biological psychiatry — with technologies such as brain imaging and reversible brain lesion — provides converging findings reminiscent of early accounts by the old masters. In particular, suggestion has been shown to modulate specific neural activity in the human brain. Here we show that ‘behavioural lesions’ — the influence words exert on focal brain activity — may constitute the twenty-first-century appellation of ‘dynamic lesions’. While recent research results involving suggestion seem to partially support Freudian notions as well as modern-day psychoanalytic ideas, correlating psychoanalysis with its brain substrates remains difficult. We elucidate the incipient role of cognitive neuroscience, including the relative merits and inherent limitations of imaging of the living human brain, in explaining psychoanalytical concepts.

Chapter.  8806 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Psychiatry

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