Vilayanur Subramanian Ramachandran

Today we want to talk about the work of Vilayanur Subramanian Ramachandran, a remarkable neuroscientist.
Vilayanur Subramanian Ramachandran

Today we would like to tell you more about the life and work of Vilayanur Subramanian Ramachandran. He is a neuroscientist known for his research, knowledge and contributions in the fields of behavioral neurology and visual psychophysics.

He has written many books that outline some of the most important neuroscience research of recent years.

Vilayanur Subramanian Ramachandran is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego. Furthermore, his publications and books also make him one of the foremost disseminators of information from the study of neuroscience.

He also achieved significant professional recognition worldwide. He was even named one of the 100 Most Influential People on Times 100 list in 2011 (link in English).

His major contributions are related to mirror neurons, phantom limbs, synesthesia, the broken mirror theory of autism, and sleep paralysis and help us understand human consciousness.

Youth and education

Studying the brain

Vilayanur Subramanian Ramachandran was born in 1951 in Tamil Nadu, India. He is the son of a United Nations engineer who worked as a diplomat in Bangkok, Thailand. For example, his early education took place in British schools in Madras in India as well as in Bangkok.

After graduating in medicine from the University of Madras in Chennai, India, he obtained a PhD in experimental neuroscience from the University of Cambridge. He then spent the next two years at Caltech as a researcher alongside Jack Pettigrew.

He was then appointed assistant professor of psychology at the University of California in 1983, where he remains a tenured member.

The Scientific Career of VS Ramachandran

His first studies revolved around human visual perception. In the early 1990s, Ramachandran then focused on neurological syndromes such as bodily integrity disorder, phantom limbs, and Capgras syndrome.

His discoveries inspired many new ideas about the functioning of the human brain. During his research, however, he made relatively little use of complex technologies, such as neuroimaging.

He is also the director of a research group made up of students and researchers at the University of California, the Center for Brain and Cognition (CBC). This group has published many academic papers on a range of emerging neuroscientific theories.

Vilayanur Subramanian Ramachandran and Phantom Limbs

The effect produced in patients who have once lost a limb but continue to feel the missing limb is known as phantom limb.

Ramachandran theorized about this phenomenon and concluded that there is a connection between phantom limbs and neural plasticity in the brains of adult humans.

His research showed that the human brain causes noticeable changes in the somatosensory cortex in the absence of a limb.

His conclusions thus led him to defend the hypothesis that there is a connection between cortical reorganization and the sensation of continuing to feel a limb even though you no longer have it.

The mirror box

The invention of the mirror box and the mirror’s visual feedback are also credited to VS Ramachandran. As a result, professionals use mirror therapy as a treatment for phantom limb paralysis.

In many cases they have been able to restore the movement through the mirror box. It also reduces the pain caused by missing limbs.

A 2014 study found that this therapy can also exert a strong influence on the motor network through increased cognitive understanding of the control of actions. Other parallel studies also concluded that there is enough evidence to confirm the results of mirror therapy.


Vilayanur Subramanian Ramachandran and Synesthesia

Synesthesia is a phenomenon where some people see colors when they hear music. The association of numbers with colors or textures with emotions is also common in people who have this. Thus, in synesthetic people, two or more perceptual systems are activated for a single stimulus.

VS Ramachandran has conducted several studies on this phenomenon. He was therefore one of the first to theorize that synesthesia is produced by cortical cross-neurological activation. Ramachandran and his team then developed numerous tests to detect it.

Vilayanur Subramanian Ramachandran’s Debate on Mirror Neurons

Giacomo Rizzolatti of the University of Parma, was the first to talk about mirror neurons. In 1922 he subsequently published an article about it.

VS Ramachandran also focused much of his work on the role of mirror neurons. He also focused a lot on their relationship with various human mental faculties such as empathy, learning and language evolution.

In this regard, he predicted, for example, that mirror neurons would create a unifying framework that would help explain some mental faculties whose exact processes we do not yet know.

He also compared the importance of the discovery of mirror neurons for psychology with the importance of the discovery of DNA for biology.

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