Locationism is when people talk about the brain as if its activities or functions happen or are governed in just one location. For example, someone may say, "Here is the place in the brain for talking and the location for balking and the place for walking." I have blogged about this misperception before, e.g, here, here, and here. For some reason, I guess because it makes explanations easier and the brain simpler, the notion hangs on and on and on.
Related to a different, alternative theory—that a brain function results from the brain working as a team and not at a single location—is this new research. From "‘Brain waves’ challenge area-specific view of brain activity" (KU LEUVEN):
Our understanding of brain activity has traditionally been linked to brain areas – when we speak, the speech area of the brain is active. New research by an international team of psychologists led by David Alexander and Cees van Leeuwen (Laboratory for Perceptual Dynamics) shows that this view may be overly rigid. The entire cortex, not just the area responsible for a certain function, is activated when a given task is initiated. Furthermore, activity occurs in a pattern: waves of activity roll from one side of the brain to the other.
The brain can be studied on various scales, researcher David Alexander explains: "You have the neurons, the circuits between the neurons, the Brodmann areas – brain areas that correspond to a certain function – and the entire cortex. Traditionally, scientists looked at local activity when studying brain activity, for example, activity in the Brodmann areas. To do this, you take EEG's (electroencephalograms) to measure the brain’s electrical activity while a subject performs a task and then you try to trace that activity back to one or more brain areas."
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