IX. THE NEW SCIENCE OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY

If one likens each nerve cell to a central telephone office, each of its filamentous prolongations to a telephone wire, one can imagine a striking analogy between the modus operandi of nervous processes and of the telephone system. The utility of new connections at the central office, the uselessness of the mechanism when the connections cannot be made, the "wires in use" that retard your message, perhaps even the crossing of wires, bringing you a jangle of sounds far different from what you desire—all these and a multiplicity of other things that will suggest themselves to every user of the telephone may be imagined as being almost ludicrously paralleled in the operations of the nervous mechanism. And that parallel, startling as it may seem, is not a mere futile imagining. It is sustained and rendered plausible by a sound substratum of knowledge of the anatomical conditions under which the central nervous mechanism exists, and in default of which, as pathology demonstrates with no less certitude, its functionings are futile to produce the normal manifestations of higher intellection.