conciousness - Brain Mechanisms Necessary for Consciousness...

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Brain Mechanisms Necessary for Consciousness •Hypothalamus controls body temperature, spinal cord controls reflexes: no consciousness necessary. •In studies, some visual stimuli are “seen” while some are not. (fMRI measures activity.) When people can report what they’ve seen, more of brain is “lit up.” •Consciousness of a stimulus depends on the amount of brain activity •E.g. Binocular Rivalry: The alternation between images projected from your right retina vs. left retina Can we use brain measurements to infer consciousness? •Brain death: Brain shows no activity and no response to stimulus •Coma: caused by trauma or damage to the brain; the brain shows a steady but low level of activity and no response to stimulus •Vegetative state: response to some stimuli (with changes in heart rate and breathing) but no purposeful actions: not clearly unconscious. •Minimally conscious state: brief periods of purposeful actions and speech comprehension Consciousness as a Threshold Phenomenon •Do people gradually become conscious (of something) or is it all-or-none? •Studies show that it is all-or-none: At a certain point, we become “aware” of a stimulus and this awareness spreads through the brain instantly. •Studies correlate reports of awareness with brain activity: one neuron firing, no awareness. Fully “lit up” brain; full awareness. Consciousness as a Construction
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conciousness - Brain Mechanisms Necessary for Consciousness...

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