Closing in on seat of consciousness in the human brain

“the team investigated whether this brainstem-cortex network was functioning in another subset of patients with disorders of consciousness, including coma. Using a special type of MRI scan, the scientists found that their newly identified “consciousness network” was disrupted in patients with impaired consciousness. The findings – bolstered by data from rodent studies – suggest the network between the brainstem and these two cortical regions plays a role maintaining human consciousness.”

http://www.bidmc.org/News/PRLandingPage/2016/November/Fox-Consciousness.aspx

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Information technologist, knowledge management expert, and writer. Academic background in knowledge management, social and natural sciences, information technologies, learning, educational technologies, and philosophy. Married with one adult child who's married and has a teenage daughter.

2 thoughts on “Closing in on seat of consciousness in the human brain

  1. Yes. But, I think it is misleading to talk abut a “seat of consciousness.” That’s just journalistic marketing. Consciousness arises from a dynamic set of neural processes that is pretty much a whole brain affair. But for sure, parts of the limbic system and brainstem are heavily and necessarily involved, not just the modern human “higher” corticothalamic network, as many might like to think.

    Part of the reason is just historical. As a weak metaphor, that fancy new computerized furnace / refrigerated air system you just installed at home is not going to work at all without the electrical system that was installed in you house decades ago, or the semi-antiquated electrical grid regulation systems PNM uses to get electricity to your house. More interesting, and less metaphorical, there is no reason to let our “higher” thinking centers operate (usually, it would be better to be asleep) if their activities are not being strictly regulated by systems “lower” in the brain (“value systems,” sensu Gerald Edelman) that keeps them doing computations that are aimed at cleverly solving basic fitness-limiting reproductive problems. The brain is a reproductive organ, just like any organ. The brain can keep you replicating your genes, via kin selection / indirect reproduction, even if the King has decided to remove your so-called “primary reproductive organs.

    I will be out of town 11/22 – 11/27, so I guess I will miss our November meeting, with regrets. Best to all. — Paul Watson

  2. I like the furnace metaphor. If self-aware consciousness is an epiphenomenon of the entire evolved, embodied neural system, perhaps an AI would require equivalent circumstances for emergence of self-aware consciousness to become possible.

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