In a recent experiment, Marcus de Sautoy traveled to Wisconsin to find an answer to the question, "What does the difference in consciousness between waking and sleeping tell us about our sense of self?" In the experiment, scientists were able to use transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in brains that were either asleep or awake in order to develop the key to consciousness. TMS is a discharge of a series of electrical shocks in a particular region of the brain. The results of the studies show that the difference between a conscious brain and an unconscious one is the location of different activity, or integration, in the brain. In a brain that is awake, a single shock initiates a series of responses in different areas of the brain including the stimulated area as well as non-stimulated. This communication allows the cerebral cortex to communicate with the rest of the brain, resulting in consciousness. However, in a brain that is asleep, activity in the brain is located only at the point of stimulation and not moving around the brain like it does when awake.
The information presented in this video provides a major find in the way our brain works. However, this test almost seems to be too simple to base a theory on. Although these scientists have created a reliable test of consciousness, is there a more valid test to come in the future? Would this test show the same results in people who sleepwalk?