Monday, June 25, 2018

Comprehending Consciousness: Study Turns to Neuroscience for Explanation

Article Written By: Juliana Zadarko


Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash
The electrical activity of individual neurons may provide scientists the answers for the origin and nature of consciousness. A team of researchers was able to utilize the medical opportunity presented by epileptic patients to isolate the brain activity that occurs upon changes in perception. These individuals received a surgical implantation of electrodes in the brain with the intent of identifying the cause of seizures.

One method used to differentiate physical stimulus from brain perception was through the use of ‘binocular rivalry’ – a phenomenon where the brain is unable to combine the images presented to the left and right eyes. Instead, the brain alternates between the two images irregularly. Patients were shown an image of a house to the right eye while the left eye was shown a face. In the analysis of the neural activity compared against reported changes in perception, the study highlights the individual cells in the human brain responsible for conscious experience.

Dr. Hagar Gelbard-Sagiv, study lead, explains, “Computers and robots interact with the world without being conscious. But something miraculous happens inside our brains to make us conscious and experience the world from a subjective perspective.” 

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