Consciousness - one of the greatest mysteries facingby humanity. But where and how does it arise? Does consciousness really exist or is it just an illusion skillfully created by the brain? Finding answers to these questions is an incredibly difficult task, but, fortunately, this does not stop scientists. To try to understand exactly where consciousness arises in the human brain, the authors of a new study conducted an experiment in which 98 subjects took part. During the study, most of the subjects were awake, some were under anesthesia, while others had impaired consciousness and brain disease. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and a machine algorithm based on artificial intelligence, scientists have found that there are two biological neural networks that are directly related to consciousness. It seems that science has not yet been selected so close to the most important of the secrets of mankind.
Biological neural network Is a network of brain neurons(nerve cells that process, store and transmit information using electrical and chemical signals). Connecting to each other in a network, neurons form brain functions, memory, consciousness, etc.
How are attention and consciousness related?
Imagine that you need to fulfill an importantwork: you are focused on some task, but suddenly thoughts start to wander and now you are dreaming about the weekend and how great it will be to spend it. This continues exactly as long as your boss or colleague does not remind himself of himself by a message in a working chat or by phone call - after all, today many people work from home because of the CoVID-19 pandemic. This kind of “switching” of consciousness occurs automatically and is the result of two brain states: the back attention system (DAT), thanks to which we are aware of ourselves and the world around us and the networks of the passive mode of the brain (DMN), thanks to which we can focus on ourselves (our inner world).
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Authors of a New Study Publishedin the journal Science Advances, it is believed that when one of these conditions is active, the second is automatically suppressed. In general, during the experiment, scientists were able to demonstrate the constantly changing nature of the brain - even when a person was under anesthesia or did not respond to impulses from the outside - using fMRI and a machine algorithm based on artificial intelligence. The results obtained suggest that both of these conditions - neural connections - are functions of the brain of a higher order - that is, they are responsible for thinking, speaking, etc. The authors of the article believe that these functions are associated with consciousness and are suppressed when a person is unconscious.
We create a new picture of the brain that changes dynamically over time - the authors of the study write in their article.
The brain independently “switches” neural networks
During the experiment, scientists analyzed patterns of brain activity in seconds in 98 subjects. Patterns Is a kind of regularly recurring patternaction. During the experiment, some of the subjects were awake or were under anesthesia, while the other part of the subjects had impaired consciousness. During the study, scientists found that the subjects' brains very quickly “switched” from one network to another, and this happened regularly and according to certain patterns. It turned out that in patients under anesthesia and in patients with impaired cerebral circulation, the functioning of higher brain functions was significantly reduced. Moreover, the nature of the “switch” between networks depended on whether the patient was conscious or not.
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According to the authors of the study,future results will allow us to create a new picture of the human brain, which changes every second and which, as scientists are convinced, is connected with consciousness. Let me remind you that in recent years, scientists have been trying to detect brain regions responsible for consciousness. Despite the fact that it was not possible to isolate specific areas, year after year, discovery after discovery, scientists gradually compose a general picture of how the brain works - and this, for a second, is the most complex organ of the human body - slowly but surely approaching secrets consciousness. If you are interested in this topic and you are not afraid to doubt your beliefs, read our great material about the riddles of consciousness and about people who have dedicated their lives to finding answers to one of the most difficult questions of our time - what is consciousness and how it appeared.