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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Claustrum: Consciousness 'switch'

Claustrum in Cerebrum  (Gray's Anatomy)
Recent scientific findings about “a thin, sheet-like component deep in the brain” called the claustrum have lent new meaning to the phrase “turning on and tuning in.”

UPI reports on a study from George Washington University in which neurologist Mohamad Koubeissi “and
his colleagues were able to turn a woman’s consciousness off and on by stimulating her claustrum.”

Consciousness, loosely defined as "a combination of thoughts, sensations and emotions,” is thought to be
orchestrated by the claustrum, which has been compared to the ignition switch within a car.

Koubeissi's findings are particularly significant because the woman whose claustrum was stimulated “remained
awake while she was apparently unconscious.”  Her eyes were wide open, yet she was “seemingly unaware of the world around her.”

According to researcher Christof Koch, knowing which parts of the brain are integrally involved with consciousness can help us to understand “who has it and who doesn’t” (e.g., dogs, fetuses, robots, worms, etc.).


Copyright July 10, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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