Neuroscientists don’t know what consciousness is

An interesting finding!

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. [DOI: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2014.05.027 – “Electrical stimulation of a small brain area reversibly disrupts consciousness”]

But that’s not consciousness. Consciousness is “what it is like”. Being “asleep” or “awake” — are you moving around? — isn’t the main thing.

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