Alternative MethodsConventional Methods


March 29

Scientists discover the on-off switch for human consciousness deep within the brain

Tommy Strickland
Core Spirit member since Dec 24, 2020
Reading time 2 min.

Researchers at George Washington University are reporting that they’ve discovered the human consciousness on-off switch, deep within the brain. When this region of the brain, called the claustrum, is electrically stimulated, consciousness — self-awareness, sentience, whatever you want to call it — appears to turn off completely. When the stimulation is removed, consciousness returns.

The claustrum seems to bind together all of our senses, perceptions, and computations into single, cohesive experience. This could have massive repercussions for people currently in a minimally conscious state (i.e. a coma), and for deciding once and for all which organisms are actually conscious. Are monkeys conscious? Cats and dogs? A foetus?

When it comes to human consciousness, much like the rest of our brain’s operation, there isn’t a whole lot in the way of actual scientific knowledge. Despite a century of “modern” neuroscience, we still only have a rough sketch of how the human brain works. Most theories, though, generally agree that consciousness is probably created by a part of the brain that integrates activity from different regions of the brain into a single, holistic experience.

To put it in (very loose) computing terms, this seat of human consciousness would be somewhat like a CPU; without it, you’d just have a bunch of different parts that are theoretically functional, but not really capable of getting anything useful done.

The research, led by Mohamad Koubeissi at GWU in Washington DC, was originally tasked with analyzing a woman with epilepsy. The neuroscientists were stimulating regions of the brain with electrodes in an attempt to discover where her seizures originated from. Then, when they stimulated the claustrum — a thin region of the brain underneath the neocortex — the patient slowly lost consciousness. When the stimulation was removed, consciousness returned. When the claustrum was stimulated, the woman just stopped whatever she was doing (speaking, reading, moving) and stared blankly into space; when stimulation was removed, she continued as normal with no recollection of what had just happened.

Speaking to New Scientist, Koubeissi said: “I would liken it to a car. A car on the road has many parts … but there’s only one spot where you turn the key and it all switches on and works together. So while consciousness is a complicated process created via many structures and networks – we may have found the key.

As you might expect when it comes to bleeding-edge neuroscience, there are some caveats to the research — most notably, the study only looked at the brain of one person, and due to her epilepsy (and previous removal of part of her hippocampus) she doesn’t necessarily represent a “normal” brain. In short, more research needs to be done — and following the publishing of this paper, you can be guaranteed that there will be more research into the claustrum.

If it turns out that the claustrum is the seat of consciousness, the repercussions could be monumental. Consciousness — the idea that we are somehow greater than the sum of our dumb animal senses — has always been a rather sticky concept. The general idea is that consciousness is one of the key factors that makes us human — that imbues us with humanity — rather than merely roaming around, responding to hard-coded instincts.

Curiously, even though stimulating the claustrum removed consciousness, the patient was still awake. Consciousness is often discussed in relation to wakefulness, but seemingly they are not as closely connected as originally thought. This new research could also inform us about anesthesia and comas — two other areas of medicine we still know very little about.

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that the claustrum is believed to be present in all mammalian brains. Does this mean that all dogs and cats are conscious and self-aware? When the human (or other mammalian) fetus develops a claustrum, does it become conscious? What about other, simpler animals that don’t have a claustrum? Interesting questions that neuroscientists are no doubt be racing to answer.

By Sebastian Anthony/Extreme Tech

Comments

Leave your questions here

To write a comment you must
or
Services
Category filter
Concern filter
Type filter
Sort
 
All categories
Oracle Cards Reading
$22 USD
Clarity Session

Hello from Eclectic Healing & Wellness. Thank you for this oppitunity to connect with you. This private clarity sessoon we will take a deep dive to discov…

Tyisha Morris
United States of America flag icon
Spiritual Healing
$270 USD
One-On-One Healing Session

I connect with your higher self/soul to channel the messages, blockages, guidance you need to hear for all life issues. From chronic pain, anxiety, depression,…

Dawn Cady
Australia flag icon
Wellness Coaching
$10 USD
Your Missing Manual for Health & Life!

Are you constantly reading books, blogs and listening to podcasts trying to figure out what to do to be healthy?

With so much conflicting information out ther…

Pamela Malo
United States of America flag icon
Positive Psychology
$10 USD
Initial Video Consult

Explore the fit and hear how I would address your therapeutic goal

Alex Guthrie, LMFT
United States of America flag icon
Spiritual Healing
$10 USD
HEALING / Life- Coaching Session

When you aren’t sure which way to turn or who to turn to for help in making decisions, I will help you come home to yourself and forge a plan to manifest your …

Dr. Michele S. Zirkle
United States of America flag icon
Life Coaching
$50 USD
Transformative Coaching Session

You will receive a private 1:1 transformative coaching session, focused on the area(s) in your life which you are most looking to improve, expand, and/or trans…

Tyisha Morris
United States of America flag icon
Tarot Reading
$10 USD
Tarot Reading - Checking in with the universe

“What does the universe want me to know?” is a common question. During uncertain times, it may be difficult to identify a single topic to focus upon. During th…

Jessica Karels
United States of America flag icon
Personal Development Coaching
$120 USD
Spiritual Life Coach Session-Personalized Session

Personalized Sessions

Because Everyone Is Unique

Sessions are based on the area of focus requested by the client.

Each session is a LIVE Session Goals will…

Deborah Lucero
United States of America flag icon
Chakra Balancing
$60 USD
Soul To Soul Reading Session

Energetic Reading

Complete Chakra System Reading to identify energy blocks. Techniques are provided to restore balance.

What Is An Energetic Reading?

Debo…

Deborah Lucero
United States of America flag icon
Channeling
$50 USD
Healing guidance session

You prepare your questions and I channel the root cause of the issue, as easy as that!

Every session looks different. We dive deep into the root and heal it f…

Nanna
5
Sweden flag icon
Spiritual Healing
$20 USD
Compassionate energy healing

For those times when we feel we need the energetic space to let our whole being restore itself. The healing is meant to give you a sense of safety and feel lik…

Nanna
Sweden flag icon
Distance Healing
$10 USD
Reiki and Energy Healing (Distant)

Reiki and energy healing is done by distance while a client is resting and the practitioner sends healing energy to the client. Clients have found that the en…

Beverly Lynn
Canada flag icon
Spiritual Healing
$80 USD
Soul Healing and Spiritual Advice

If you need a change in your life, if you are stuck and really want to move forward, if you see unwanted repeated patterns of life events or people’s behaviour…

Yavenirie - Spiritual Witchery Practice and…
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland flag icon
Spiritual Healing
$10 USD
Initial consultation for Spiritual Advice or Soul Healing Journey

You can book an initial spiritual consultation with me to touch base on your struggles and ways we can work together. The session will be online for around 15 …

Yavenirie - Spiritual Witchery Practice and…
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland flag icon
Shamanic Healing
$10 USD
Light the Path to Your Desired Life

If you want find what is that in life that makes you happy and fulfilled you need to heal all levels of your existence- Body, Mind, and Spirit. We are all ener…

Change Naturopathy
New Zealand flag icon
Emotional Freedom Technique
$10 USD
The Power Of Emotional Healing - EFT Program

“The Power of Emotional Healing” is energy psychology education in the Emotional Freedom Technique with the perfect balance of information, instructions, video…

Dawn Cady
Australia flag icon
Art Therapy
$50 USD
Artist Teacher Workshop Or Tutoring

“Life Force” guiding our history, our body and spirits. Self portrait art, life drawing from the live model, gesture, and plein air painting. And extended cont…

Bryan Prillwitz
United States of America flag icon
Tarot Reading
$100 USD
Timeline Reading

EGYPTIAN TAROT READINGS using unique methods developed by Nelise Carbonare, a Brazilian healer with more than 40 years of experience in tarot consultations, as…

Nelise Carbonare
United States of America flag icon
Tarot Reading
$120 USD
THE SYNERGY OF THE PYRAMID

THE SYNERGY OF THE PYRAMID focuses on a specific relationship: One side for the consultant and one for their partner. (the partner does not need to be present …

Nelise Carbonare
United States of America flag icon
Tarot Reading
$10 USD
Pick one card

Many questions can be answer with just one Arcane.

Do you want to try?

Nelise Carbonare
United States of America flag icon
Personal Development Coaching
$50 USD
Spiritual Coaching - Removing Energy Blocks - Expansion

> “Who looks outside dreams. Who looks inside awakens.” Jung

Spiritual coaching is about moving you into a profound state of empowerment and involution m…

Kimla Rose (Kim Desrosiers)
United States of America flag icon
Life Coaching
$10 USD
Life Purpose and Soul Wisdom

What is your deeper truth, your deeper knowing, your MOJO, your deepest desires, those feelings that you can’t explain but that are so pure and so clear…or may…

Anna Beale
United States of America flag icon
Nutritional Therapy
$150 USD
Nutritional Therapy Consultation

Hi my name is Aria and I am the founder of Heal with Nutrition. I am a registered Nutritional Therapist and a Naturopath who has a passion on Nutrition and Hea…

Aria Alexandrou
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland flag icon
Tarot Reading
$10 USD
THOTH AND HERMETIC DECKS READING

With a deep knowledge of hermeticism and being introduced to the kabbalah tradition of the emanation process from the tree of life, I provide a deep insight co…

James Marchiori
Ireland flag icon

Related Articles