Researchers Close-In on How the Brain Generates Consciousness
By studying how human beings lose consciousness during anesthesia, researchers are discovering more about how the brain comes in and out of consciousness.
The study is significant because it has changed the way researchers think about the forming of consciousness.
Rafael Yuste, Professor of Neuroscience at Columbia, said: “This study is important because it takes the question of the nature of consciousness to the neuronal circuit level.
“It provides an intellectual thread that could explain how alterations in the coordination of small groups of neurons, either by pathologies or anesthetics, could lead to alterations in consciousness.”
The study, “Reduced Repertoire of Cortical Microstates and Neuronal Ensembles in Medically Induced Loss of Consciousness,” offers a foundation for understanding how dynamics of local neuronal ensembles could contribute to the loss or emergence of conscious states.
The authors noted that mechanistic studies on the role of local circuits in the loss or gain of consciousness remain challenging, thought they hope their research adds to the basic science of the neural circuitry.