A Neurophysiology of Mind?
The search for electrophysiologic correlates of mental ill ness must proceed in parallel with the investigation of the neuro-physiologic basis of normal mental processes. The difficulty and complexity of the latter enterprise is apparent, yet most of our efforts to examine relations between brain potentials and psychopathology have comprised rather simple approaches which seek pathognomonic alterations in the electroencephalogram or in event-related brain potentials. This strategy rests upon two principal assumptions. First, that relatively homogeneous diagnostic groupings can be clinically defined which share some common pathobiologic mechanism; and second, that the underlying neurobiological abnormality be reflected in some observable aspect of scalp recorded potentials. As I have pointed out elsewhere (Vaughan, 1975, and in press), neither of these presumptions has a high probability of being correct. Clearly, the nosology of mental illness cannot pretend to the definition of neurobiologically homogeneous entities. Phenomenologically, individual instances of deviant psychological function are not only diverse in their behavioral manifestations but vary strikingly over time, except perhaps in certain chronically institutionalized patients.
KeywordsField Potential Firing Pattern Brain Potential Postsynaptic Activity Parietal Association Cortex
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