Science & Technology
'Engine of consciousness' found in macaques
By T.K. Randall
February 24, 2020 · 2 comments
What exactly is consciousness and how does it work ? Image Credit: sxc.hu
Scientists have identified an area of the brain that seems to be strongly connected to consciousness.
We - as in the human race - are conscious, meaning that on a day-to-day basis we perceive a great deal about the world around us. We feel - both physically and emotionally - and can not only ask big questions about our own existence, but also about the nature of existence itself.
But what exactly is consciousness and how are we able to switch it on and off when we sleep ?
In a recent study, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison analyzed the brains of monkeys to look for clues. What they discovered were two key pathways associated with consciousness and a region of the brain - an 'engine of consciousness' - that seemed to get those pathways going.
By stimulating this region, they were able to effectively jump start the monkeys awake.
While it is unlikely that any one part of the brain is entirely responsible for our conscious state, the findings do suggest that some areas - such as the central lateral thalamus - play a key role.
"There is, however, a different conception of consciousness [that is] much more difficult to study: the subjective experience that comes with some instances of information processing in the brain, the 'what it feels like' component of our inner life," said neuroscientist Michael Graziano.
"Studies like the present one do not address this type of consciousness."
Source: Live Science
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