What is consciousness and where is it located?

consciousness

Introduction


First we have to differentiate between cognitive consciousness and sensory feeling consciousness
Our main topic here is about sensory consciousness (vigilance), which we will mention in detail
and give a glimpse of cognitive consciousness .

Recently, many scientists, philosophers, thinkers, and researchers talked about consciousness
and many efforts have been made to reach a valuable and useful definition away from
vagueness or circumvention .

For example, the scientist (Stuart Sutherland) expressed a skeptical stance on more than just
a definition of consciousness, where he stated that for one to be conscious, it is sufficient
to be aware of the external world and added: Consciousness is an amazing phenomenon but
also a distant one, that’s why, it is impossible to determine what it is, its work, or the reason for its development

We find that a biased definition such as Sutherland’s definition can greatly affect
researchers assumptions and directions of their work, such as (Descartes and Locke) as well as
Western philosophers and scientists, who searched and examined in order to understand the
nature of consciousness and on what form it fits with the world .

And then, they came up with some questions about whether consciousness is the same as
physical matter, and after a careful study they found a network of three specific regions in
the brain that seem crucial to consciousness .

Is consciousness of material and biological origin ? And where is it located exactly ?


A research was published in November 2016, and this research may be significant for our
understanding of what it means to be human, and it could also help researchers to find
treatments for patients whose their consciousness is affected, such as vegetative states


Principal researcher Michael Fox of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard
Medical School in 2016 said: “For the first time we have found a connection between the
brainstem region associated with arousal and regions involved in consciousness, two
prerequisites for consciousness” .


Plenty of evidence converges to suggest that this network plays a role in human consciousness
and researchers have already shown that arousal is likely regulated by the brainstem – the
part of the brain that connects to the spinal cord .

It is one of the oldest functional biological parts in humans, which it inherited from its ancient
ancestors over millions of years of evolution, unlike the newer cerebral cortex

In fact, the researcher Michael Fox thinks that it regulates sleep and wakefulness, heart rate and
breathing


Injuries or bruises and damages to this area are often fatal and lead to serious damages
Patients in vegetative and brain-dead patients notice that they have varying levels of brain
stem damages .

brain_stem

The Harvard team identified not only a vital brainstem region but also two regions of the cerebral
cortex that seem to work together to create consciousness

Now that we know that consciousness is located somewhere in the cortex (the outer layer of the
brain) you will have many inquiries


What is the difference between conscious and subconscious ?


Do you remember a situation where you got so angry with someone, that you didn’t know what
did you say, and you hurt them so much with your words ?


In these cases, your consciousness was not present to make you think with balance and wisdom
and control your reaction. Rather, your subconscious mind takes responsibility of your action
So the importance of consciousness in these moments is to control your reactions and actions
not to allow your subconscious mind to act in a different way from what you do not want

Subconscious


It can be said that the subconscious is the unconscious mind, which is the source of dreams and automatic thoughts, those that appear without a clear reason for their appearance, or the
storehouse of forgotten memories that are still within reach of consciousness at a later time
things that we have learned so well that we do without thinking are classified within the
subconscious


It also includes some phenomenon related to consciousness and subconsciousness such as
(semi-awareness, implicit memory, hypnosis)

While (sleep, dream, delirium, coma) may indicate the presence of subconscious processes

These processes are symptoms, not the unconscious mind itself, and some critics have
questioned the existence of subconsciousness in the first place

consciousness


It is indicated that consciousness is the initial experience of things, such as moving things
seeing the medium, feeling sounds, as well as sensations, emotions and feelings in the
human body


On the other hand, it can be considered a phenomenon through which access to information
lies in the minds of individuals in order to communicate verbally about it, reasoning as well
and controlling behavior .


In this sense, consciousness can be classified into four types :


1-Spontaneous consciousness :


It is the kind that does not require a great mental effort when we perform an activity, so that it
does not prevent us from engaging in other mental activities .

2- Meditative consciousness :


Contrary to the first, this requires a mental presence that is based on higher mental abilities
such as intelligence and memory, and therefore it prevents us from engaging in any other
activity , that is involved with it .

3- Intuitive consciousness :


It is the sudden direct consciousness that makes us aware of things, relationships, or knowledge
about a subject, without being able to conjure up any evidence

4 – Moral normative consciousness :


It is what makes us evaluate things and behaviors, so we reject or accept them based on moral instructions

Perception from a philosophical perspective


Nietzsche mentioned that a person can live completely independently of awareness as
he can go through his life experiences and extract himself by expressing them in words


His theory about that is summarized by the fact that when a person lives his human life that is
subject to destruction, he is forced to express himself in words, and then the growth of language
and the growth of insanity are inseparable. Thus, in his view, a person created illusions for himself
that frame his life, such as (duties and responsibilities, etc.)


As for Freud, he mentioned that human life is like an iceberg, and then we will make a lot of
mistakes if we attribute all our behaviors to consciousness. The subconscious or the subliminal
can control some of our pathological, abnormal or deviant behaviors .
Hence, we arrive at the image of the iceberg that Freud envisioned

Is consciousness limited to its existence in humans? Or branch out to include all living things?

animal_consciousness

Certainly all living things have different degrees of consciousness, in proportion to their physiology
brain size, and biological complexity


Scientific studies have found that birds have more awareness and perception than we imagined
and two recently published studies showed that birds have the ability to think and that their brains
work in a manner similar to the brains of mammals, which could raise more controversy in the
scientific community about the issue of animal consciousness


One of the studies is the study conducted by the team of the Department of Animal Physiology
at the Institute of Neuroscience at Tubingen University, Germany, under the supervision of
Dr. Andreas Nieder, who stated and said :
“Corvids are not only self-aware of visual stimuli, but they can also store and remember those experiences, which is a characteristic of sensory consciousness ”

Recently, consciousness has become an important topic for multidisciplinary researches, such
as the fields of psychology and neurosciences, and medicine has also participated in dividing consciousness through patient consultation and his response to an integrated series
starting from full alertness and awareness to pass through the loss of motor response to painful
stimuli, to reach in the end to cases of severe illnesses, coma or anesthesia as well

Doctors rely on standardized measures of consciousness (such as the Glasgow coma scale)

In the end, it must be mentioned that human brains are complex in a way that it is difficult
to fully understand, and that the human brain is advanced in all its vital processes and activities


What scientists have come to know through hundreds of years and thousands of experiments is
only a drop in a vast sea of science


We hope that we have enlightened your consciousness with this knowledge, and helped you to
control your consciousness and your actions .

The end of the article

Source :

scientificamerican

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