Consciousness as science sees it

Consciousness as science sees it

There is something strange when you think about it a little bit. You all know that you are reading the words that are now passing before your eyes, but if I were to ask you to describe what is going on in your head, the explanation would be different for most of you. There is an active debate between philosophers, intellectuals, artificial intelligence researchers, and physicists between researchers in neuroscience and members of disciplines interested in it.

To be very clear, the challenge is considerable. Neuroscience needs nothing less than to discover the areas of the brain responsible for this condition, and for those areas to communicate with each other and to discover the brilliant result of the subjective experience of our mind. Many philosophers do not believe this is possible because the question is whether the brain can understand for itself how it works.

What is consciousness?

As the French philosopher Andre Comte-Sponville puts it, “conscience is one of the most difficult words to define.” So I offer you the simplest and most general definition: Consciousness is this ability to understand one’s own existence and the world around it. I will leave here the so-called “moral” conscience.

As evidenced by the response of our readers to the recent Article Published on NewsThe scientific expression of the mechanics of consciousness is seen by many philosophers, religious and spiritual defenders as a “reductionist”. Mankind has been thinking about it for a long time, and the scientific approach seems to reduce the human condition to an efficient mix of biochemical, electrical, and structural processes, which is often seen as a bad player that disrupts the already existing consensus. And yet Scientific method It can teach us a lot on this subject.

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Which areas of the brain are involved?

The exploration of the phenomenon of consciousness through neuroscience began in the 1990s, with the advent of new brain imaging tools – including functional magnetic resonance – that make it possible to isolate active areas of the brain as we work. The researchers used imagery to compare brain activity when we were conscious with unconscious states such as coma, sleep, and the first moments of waking. After 30 years of research, we have only one observation that consciousness is not created in any part of the body. The brain.

As is often the case in research, two “schools” were formed. First, there are those who speculate that most of the areas needed to regain consciousness are located in the frontal lobe of the brain. On the other hand, all of this occurs in the posterior part of the brain, the anterior and parietal lobes.

However, over the years, research has shown more and more that these areas have an importance in all the systems that lead to consciousness. The major areas involved in consciousness are the motor cortex, functional memory, and the language located in the front of the brain, as well as behind the attention, hearing, and vision.

In addition, we now find other older areas of our brain in the limbic system that participate in this condition. For example, the thalamus, located in the center of the brain, can play the role of coordinator of brain activity in these areas. But the real question is how they relate to each other to create consciousness.

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Three theories of neuroscience

To answer this important question, scientific research seems to revolve around Three theories Of consciousness.

There is a “global theory of the workplace” that uses the telephone number to memorize, for example, that consciousness is a temporary event, experienced in a subjective way, and is our working memory. Those who defend it use the metaphor of the brain as a play. Consciousness is a projector that moves in the brain every moment to illuminate areas that are useful for our survival.

The second theory – “integration of information” – suggests that consciousness arises through the constant integration between different areas, whatever the task we perform: listening, seeing or reading., For example. It has been widely criticized in this area as having a clinical utility because it enables the construction of mathematical models that connect the function of the brain to various areas of consciousness to some extent, for example more or less deep coma.

The last one – I have to admit, it’s very complicated – suggests its contribution ” Quantum Mechanics In the very expression of consciousness. Quantum mechanics is a branch of physics that explains that at the atomic level, reality is very different from ours, and that matter acts like a wave and a particle. This “quantum” reality works in the structures contained in all brain cells, and is used exclusively in microtubules and neurons to transport matter from one place to another. Researchers believe that microtubes adopt quantum nature because of their order, and that this phenomenon is what creates awareness. we have Found This track is about analyzing how some anesthetic agents with quantum properties that are different from our cells like xenon can temporarily leave the world of consciousness.

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What is the benefit of understanding?

Medically, a better understanding of consciousness can be an asset in the treatment of many diseases, including stroke, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and phobias. Many teams work with the results of scientific research on consciousness to apply this knowledge in an effective therapeutic way. We are only at the beginning of these applications of systems of awareness in the treatment of diseases, but this is an innovative and promising area.

We are in a time of contradiction and cooperation. In order to succeed in combining scientific discoveries, great scientific and philosophical theories at the same time, it is certain that sharing, debating and combining knowledge in our understanding of conscience is far more useful than barren arguments. However, neuroscience shows that working systems are far from “reducing”, but they are very complex.

Thirty years of exploration by neuroscience is nothing compared to the reflection of millennia to define and understand consciousness. We can give the runner a chance … Anyway, humans are not in a hurry to reveal this secret that has existed since they knew themselves.

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