Consciousness is an interesting topic which has aroused curiosity in scientists as well as in philosophers for over centuries, but none has been able to come up with the answer as to what causes consciousness and which process takes up inside our brains which provides consciousness, even though we have a good knowledge of the parts and functions of the human brain.
However, a group of researchers from George Washington University found success in switching the consciousness on and off with a woman who has been suffering from epilepsy. They managed to do so with the help of electric impulses which they used to stimulate a particular region in her brain. They came up with this finding when they were applying electric impulses to find out the epicentre of her seizures. They were trying to measure the resultant activity which could have enabled them in curing the lady from epilepsy.
To understand the work of the researchers better, let us look at the findings of Francis Cric, one of the pioneers in deciphering the human DNA who said that a region known as ‘Claustrum’ maybe the centre of consciousness; where impulses from different parts of the brain are received and give a resultant output.
The researchers from George Washington University placed an electrode between the ‘Claustrum’ and another part of the brain before passing an electric brain which made the epileptic lady lose her consciousness. Her breathing rate fell down along with her movements dying down.
She gained consciousness after the researchers stopped the electric impulse; and remembered nothing of the previous actions. This event took place with the same effect each time the researchers applied the electric impulses To be completely sure that they were correct in what they had deciphered, they carried out the process once every two days. They asked the lady to speak a sentence while they applied the electric impulses. The lady uttered a few words, but slowly and steadily only murmur could be heard from her mouth. This proved that the phenomenon was that of loss of consiousness and they were right in what they had deciphered from the event.
However, some scientists have rejected this theory saying that the woman lacked a part of her ‘hippocampus’ and hence, could not be considered a normal human brain. Also, this finding has been rejected on the grounds that this is a single case and hence a generalization cannot be made on the basis of the outcome in this case. But still, there are a few positive outcomes of this case, according to the scientists; the woman was in full consciousness when the research was carried out and not in a sub-consciousness mode like sleeping or induced coma.
This finding can lead to demystifying the process of consciousness and how does it take place, making the cure of many diseases. We now hope that the scientists use this finding to dwelve deeper into this topic and come out with great findings, which would help the mankind.