Researchers from the George Washington University have managed to switch consciousness on and off in an epileptic woman by stimulating a single region of the brain with electrical impulses.
Consciousness is a fascinating topic that has both intrigued and puzzled scientists and philosophers for centuries. Despite significant advances in our understanding of the brain, little is known about the neural networks that underpin consciousness.
Research has hinted that consciousness is likely the result of an integration of activity from numerous different areas of the brain, marrying all of our perceptions together into one experience.
A few years back, Francis Crick, one of the scientists involved in deciphering the structure of DNA, and colleague Christof Koch proposed that a brain region known as the claustrum may be at the heart of consciousness, stringing together the constant input of information arriving from different brain networks.
When the researchers stopped the stimulation, she regained consciousness and couldn’t remember the event.
Lead author Mohamad Koubeissi told New Scientist he believes that the results do suggest that the claustrum plays a pivotal role in consciousness.