Consciousness and our brain

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One of the greatest topics that scientists and psychologists alike have struggled with is the idea of consciousness, and how it affects us while awake and asleep. In a documentary produced by BBC, "The Secret You", it is revealed that a lab in Madison, Wisconsin, has come very close to defining what consciousness is and how it is changed during awake and asleep states. The experiment done by this lab involves administering a series of electric shocks to a patient while he/she is awake and asleep, and then taking images of the brain to see how it reacts to these shocks.
While the patient is awake, the stimulus to the brain causes the activation of a several different areas of the brain, including areas that are not close in proximity to the area where the stimulus took place. The brain is active at different times in complex patterns. However, there is a great change in the response of the brain while the patient is asleep. When the shock is administered to a sleeping patient, the activity of the brain stays localized to the area where the stimulus is. In other words, while we are asleep, the communication channels between different areas of the brain are shut down, and remain isolated from each other.
As a result of this experiment, the researchers define consciousness as an integration of the different areas of our brain. I think it's interesting that while we are asleep, the areas of our brain stop communicating with each other. It's as though consciousness is dependent on the fact that we are complex individuals that require multiple processes to take place simultaneously. Our brain can only "shut down" and operate in a simple, individualized way when we are unconscious and don't have several kinds of stimuli, whether visual, olfactory, or even internal, acting on us at the same time.

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This page contains a single entry by eite0011 published on October 9, 2011 4:41 PM.

Hindsight Bias: I Knew It All Along was the previous entry in this blog.

Stimulation Dependences is the next entry in this blog.

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