Consciousness and the claustrum

Consciousness – we hit its sweet spot

New Scientist, 5 July 2014, Helen Thomson, based on Koubeisse et al

Summary and review of the above article

Gray_718-emphasizing-claustrumA recent study suggests that a particular brain area, the claustrum, is at least necessary, although probably not sufficient, for consciousness. The claustrum is a sheet of neurons just below the cortex, and is connected to much of the cortex. Most consciousness theorists agree that there is a need to integrate activity from spatially separate regions of the brain. The original suggestion that the claustrum could be important for consciousness derived from Francis Crick and Christof Koch in the early 2000s; they suggested that the claustrum could bind together information arriving at different times.

Koubeissi et al have recently shown that it is possible to switch a human individual’s consciousness on and off, by applying electrical stimulation to the claustrum. A high frequency electric pulse to the claustrum can oblate consciousness, and cessation of the same pulse brings back consciousness. Surprisingly, synchrony increased in the frontal and parietal areas during this loss of consciousness, but it is suggested that too much synchrony can block the discrimination between different parts of the brain.

Gray742-emphasizing-claustrumThe claustrum looks to be necessary rather than sufficient. The research of recent years suggests that global gamma synchrony across spatially separated neuronal assemblies, and intense activity in small groups of neurons surrounding single neurons that respond to particular signals are both implicated in conscious processing. The claustrum might be expected to complete the final binding between different modalities such as sight, hearing and smell.

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2 Responses

  1. Adam says:

    Interesting finding. With the intriguing possibility of neural prostheses for the hippocampus, the claustrum in turn might prove able to be emulated by the right circuit architecture. Contra the usual “mind is software” the development of such may require the right brain emulating structure – will be interesting to see which way experience with neural prosthetics will push our theories.

  2. Shaikh Raisuddin says:

    Consciousness is an Interfacing Ability caused by traffic-effect of physical entities flowing in a network of paths.

    We are struggling to understand Consciousness because we first missed to define what life is. The phenomenon of life precedes the phenomenon of consciousness. Since we failed to understand life we went astray to understand consciousness.

    I stumbled upon some very fundamental questions.
    1. What is reality?
    2. What is life?
    3. What is consciousness?
    4. What is wisdom or intelligence?

    After a prolonged study, I concluded my views on them. The definitions, I refined and refined and concluded are as follows:

    Reality is anything that can cause an effect or can be affected by a cause. This definition is independent of sensory organs or perceptual prejudices and therefore is objective.
    A force vector alone is real. Balance of forces is permanent. At no instant of time there is ever absence of balance.

    Any system with repetitive process is a living being. All living beings confines in space have their own territory of existence and are in constant exchange of material or and energy with the surroundings.

    Normally, Consciousness is defined as the quality or state of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself.
    In short and simple words, consciousness is ability to detect—get influenced and react (stimulus & response).
    More precisely we can say that awareness is an ability to exchange. We cannot be aware if we do not exchange.

    Consciousness is an Interfacing Ability caused by traffic-effect of physical entities while flowing in a network of paths. An interface is a shared boundary across which two separate components of a system exchange something.

    An Atom is a Living Being
    Repetitive movement of an electron in an atom makes it a living being-the tendency to sustain the process. An electron moving around a nucleus develops a magnetic field. The magnetic field in turn acts as an interfacing mechanism or a “sense of touch” with surroundings. The magnetic field or area/volume of oscillations created by moving/spinning electron is the consciousness of the electron or the charge. It will detect and react if a reality enters into its territory of influence. Consciousness is an effect of motions.

    Wisdom or Intelligence
    Wisdom or intelligence is the ability to predict rightly cause of an effect or effect of the cause

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