Study Sheds New Light on the Origins of Conscious Awareness

Conscious Awareness

Unless you are currently suffering from a Borne Identity type of amnesia, at this moment, you will consciously know who you are, where you are and what you are reading this blog on; but where does this knowledge of ourselves and the world around us stem from?

For many years, this subject has somewhat baffled scientists, philosophers and psychologists resulting in endless studies and hypotheses aiming to explain the true origins of conscious awareness. Is conscious awareness a result of focused changes in brain connectivity? Or, is it a result of a broad network of brain activity?

Scientists believe that they have moved one step closer to fully understanding how our brain works in order to make us aware of the world around us. According to scientific researchers, the discovery of global changes in the connectivity of different areas during awareness challenges the original understanding that consciousness is the result of regional changes in neural brain activity, with research findings published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Biological theories of awareness can be categorized into two key groups: those that posit conscious perception is supported by specific, regional changes in brain activity, and those that suggest awareness results from broad changes in neural signaling across the brain. These groups are referred to as focal and global theories.

Scientific researchers from Vanderbilt University gathered data that would support either of these theories by designing specific experiments allowing them to characterize how connectivity between different brain regions was related to conscious awareness using the mathematical graph theory, which explores how different things within a network are connected.

24 volunteers’ brains were examined using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which is a technique used to measure brain activity by detecting changes in blood oxygenation. The study required volunteers to look out for a disk that briefly appeared on a screen during the scan. Volunteers were then asked whether they saw the image. Those who confidently answered that they did indeed see the disk were categorized as ‘aware,’ with the less confident answering group being categorized as ‘unaware.’

Both groups were then analyzed for differences in brain activity, and how different areas were communicating during conscious awareness.

Researchers did not find that one particular area or network became more connected during conscious awareness, lending support to the global theory of awareness.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this. For example, how would you explain how you know right now whether you are awake or not?

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Valerie

Valerie

I'm a law student who is fond of reading and writing about interesting topics on science (especially cognitive science and psychology), technology, and different extraterrestrial and paranormal stuff. I'm passionate about movies, travelling and photography.





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By | 2017-01-13T21:50:51+00:00 April 1st, 2015|Categories: Human Brain, Uncommon Science|Tags: , |9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. J` April 1, 2015 at 11:56 pm - Reply

    I know because I can see thing s that others are not aware or would deem as crazy .In essence I see what is being done and I’m sick of dealing with it…They Live!!!

  2. Dianne April 2, 2015 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    Learned responses, simultaneous neuron connectivity. I know a red Rose when I see one but you might have learnt that colour was blue. The world seems naturally the same to each individual but we each have a unique perspective. Same argument as nature versus nurture. Our cognition in each moment is not only a recognition from the previous moment but also an absorption of energy surrounding and flowing through your neighbour or the person next to you on the bus. A recognition of morphic resonance. Stephen Hawking would know

    • PETERS April 10, 2016 at 10:31 pm - Reply

      I would paraller this to watching a movie, when a person with his projector-eyes is displaying the movie (and watching it in the same time) but the same screen is used by everyone, therefore individually projected movies overlapping…

  3. stephane Kostas April 2, 2015 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    Consciousness occur when you reflect yourselves into the mirror. So, you start having freewill because there’s this dialogue that take place where you can simulate different scenario’s and coming to the realization of the future self… I’m awake because of it but if you go into metaphysal question, deeper concept with your mind, you really start seeing the big picture and another phase of awakening take place about freewill and choices…

    • PETERS April 10, 2016 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      The only free will is to choose if you want to see the BIG PICTURE, or you choose to ignore this knowledge. That’s all.

  4. Devora April 3, 2015 at 4:19 am - Reply

    This post barely asks the question what makes us aware of our being. There is so much more to that question. Some become aware of themselves and others at different times than other folks do. Some are aware, but don’t have their”antennae” up very often. Some are aware and their “antennae” never retracts. Science can’t answer the question yet. Even though scientists try to theorize, they can’t come close to the answers to where did we come from, why are we here, where do we go after here, and what are we? Those are the questions. After we answer those questions what makes us aware is moot.

  5. Otto Bhan April 3, 2015 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    Devora, what does it all mean, tell us please in your multiple posts on the questions you propose. I’m sure we’d like to hear it, in a gentler prose, like Sophie has done.

    I think you’ll agree, a journey starts with the first step… which might be considered the sense of awareness that one desires to take the journey, no?
    Too, scientific research is a journey toward awareness of that which seems unknown. The early steps may wander, even falter and fail to prove verifiable progress toward understanding what wants knowing, see?

    We are map makers, all of us. Just as one commenter stated, ‘learned responses’ is a part of our map making neurology which is encoding experiences, vistas, colors, light, dark, rose smell differences, dance steps, music and lyrics, mathematics, which fork to use, which wine favors which meal… and on and on ad infinitum- adding to our knowing.

    Additionally higher, or less practiced sensory and energy perceptions are part of our potential make up too. These esoteric studies, while useful and often fulfilling, are time intensive requiring what most humans might consider enormous and unusual outlays of lifetime hours to develop, even with masterful mentoring guidance. Few people have or take the time to delve into those metaphysical questions because one a primary level, survival demands more lifetime of us than one might wish for, given a valid choice.

    In sum, the MRI studies may be considered as early steps on knowledge building journeys. Just as a child may fear leaving its mother’s side to explore. Science moves similarly, over time, creating understandings through verifiable proof-steps to create a field of knowing that can become valuable contributions to each of our maps for navigating life here and now.

    Nez pas?

    Otto be patient.

  6. Sam Gold April 4, 2015 at 5:21 am - Reply

    Awareness is all there is.

  7. Rafael Dominguez April 12, 2015 at 2:10 am - Reply

    Awareness brings Realization. Realization causes an Awakening. Awakening Well bring you To an in – lighttene state. In the light, you will find your Truth … And finally you will know that the Power is within you. Without love, you can understand nothing. Open your mind to … All the possibilities.

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Study Sheds New Light on the Origins of Conscious Awareness