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Anaesthesia gives clues as to the nature of consciousness

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Umberto Cocopop
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Anaesthesia gives clues as to the nature of consciousness

Post by Umberto Cocopop on 30th November 2011, 12:27

There's a great article on the New Scientist's website at the moment explaining some of the findings from looking at how anaesthetics interfere with consciousness.

See: Banishing consciousness: the mystery of anaesthesia

Perhaps the main neuro-scientific perspective on what gives rise to consciousness is the 'global workspace theory'. This is the idea that consciousness is an emergent property caused by the complex interconnectedness of several brain regions. i.e. as they communicate with each other, consciousness emerges. This means that consciousness itself doesn't reside in any particular area of the brain (which is why it can't be pinned down to one particular area).

The findings shown in this article seem to support this idea. If anaesthetics gradually reduce and then prevent (depending on dosage) brain areas communicating with each other and this communication is indeed what causes consciousness then a lack of communication should reduce and then prevent consciousness.

Interesting!
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Kitkat
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Re: Anaesthesia gives clues as to the nature of consciousness

Post by Kitkat on 30th November 2011, 17:56

@Umberto Cocopop wrote:This means that consciousness itself doesn't reside in any particular area of the brain (which is why it can't be pinned down to one particular area).

Great article, UC. This is really what a whole lot of people have been saying / pondering over / putting forward for quite some time, but this idea (and the people who adhere to it) generally come under the term 'pseudoscience' .

What makes this article any different in terms of accepted scientific findings? Is Linda Geddes a respected name in the scientific community? Has this notion been peer reviewed? and if not, will it be? Is that what it would take for this theory to be taken seriously?

Brin
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Linda Geddes

Post by Brin on 1st December 2011, 23:05

Is Linda Geddes a respected name in the scientific community?

Linda Geddes has been awarded the inaugural Award for Excellence in Science and Medical Journalism from The Endocrine Society. The winning article, "Superhuman," appeared in the July 2007 issue of New Scientist.

The award was created to recognize outstanding reporting that enhances the public understanding of health issues pertaining to the field of endocrinology.

In her article, Geddes investigates what it takes to be an elite endurance athlete. She finds some athletes may excel naturally because their genes and hormone levels work together to create incredibly efficient cellular mechanisms for producing energy.

The award consists of a presentation piece, $2,000 honorarium, and travel expenses to San Francisco, Calif. to receive the award. The award was presented by Margaret Shupnik, Ph.D., president of The Endocrine Society, at ENDO 08, the annual meeting of the Society.

More information on The Endocrine Society Award for Excellence in Science and Medical Journalism is available at: http://www.endo-society.org/media/Journalism-Award.cfm




Thanks for the birthday wishes, by the way.
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Kitkat
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Re: Anaesthesia gives clues as to the nature of consciousness

Post by Kitkat on 1st December 2011, 23:30

Thanks for that, Brin.

So she is a journalist then, not necessarily a scientist? I think I need to read that the article again.
I wonder if Sam Parnia's and Peter Fenwick's research results will show similar.
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Umberto Cocopop
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Re: Anaesthesia gives clues as to the nature of consciousness

Post by Umberto Cocopop on 10th December 2011, 14:07

@KitKat wrote:
@Umberto Cocopop wrote:This means that consciousness itself doesn't reside in any particular area of the brain (which is why it can't be pinned down to one particular area).

Great article, UC. This is really what a whole lot of people have been saying / pondering over / putting forward for quite some time, but this idea (and the people who adhere to it) generally come under the term 'pseudoscience' .
No, this is normal and proper science. It's saying that consciousness arises when several areas of the brain communicate with each other. i.e. there isn't an area of the brain that is 'for consciousness' but consciousness is a more global property that emerges from the communication between different brain regions.

It does not imply that the consciousness is separate from the brain. Quite the opposite - it is caused by the brain.

@KitKat wrote:I think I need to read that the article again.
Seconded! (I've just seen your post on 'skeps' and I think you've got the wrong end of the stick)
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Kitkat
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Re: Anaesthesia gives clues as to the nature of consciousness

Post by Kitkat on 10th December 2011, 14:18

@Umberto Cocopop wrote:
@KitKat wrote:
@Umberto Cocopop wrote:This means that consciousness itself doesn't reside in any particular area of the brain (which is why it can't be pinned down to one particular area).

Great article, UC. This is really what a whole lot of people have been saying / pondering over / putting forward for quite some time, but this idea (and the people who adhere to it) generally come under the term 'pseudoscience' .
No, this is normal and proper science. It's saying that consciousness arises when several areas of the brain communicate with each other. i.e. there isn't an area of the brain that is 'for consciousness' but consciousness is a more global property that emerges from the communication between different brain regions.

It does not imply that the consciousness is separate from the brain. Quite the opposite - it is caused by the brain.

@KitKat wrote:I think I need to read that the article again.
Seconded! (I've just seen your post on 'skeps' and I think you've got the wrong end of the stick)

Oh.

Thanks, Umberto.

I must've had the broom end of the stick sweeping through there. geek

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