Human consciousness has been defined as awareness, sentience, a person’s ability to experience and feel, but despite the important role it plays in our lives and making us who we are, we actually know very little about how consciousness works.
Scientists currently believe that consciousness is composed of two components: arousal and awareness. Now, a team of researchers at Harvard think they may have discovered the regions of the brain that work with the brainstem to maintain consciousness. “A lot of pieces of evidence all came together to point to this network playing a role in human consciousness.”
To better understand why some patients were able to maintain consciousness despite injuries while others went into comas, the researchers analyzed 36 patients with brainstem lesions.
From knowing virtually nothing except the possibility that it could be located in the cortex, scientists have now identified two specific cortex regions that they believe could be essential to human consciousness.
If the researchers are right and they’ve identified the areas of the brain responsible for human consciousness, the knowledge would prove invaluable to patients in comas and vegetative states and their families as it could lead to new treatment options.