Scientists Accidentally Discover The Brain's Consciousness "Off Switch"

While performing deep brain surgery on a woman with epilepsy, neuroscientists from George Washington University stimulated an area of her brain that unexpectedly — and temporarily — caused her to lose awareness. It's a discovery that could shed light on the very nature of consciousness itself. » 7/04/14 7:00am 7/04/14 7:00am

Lucid Dreaming Can Be Induced By Zapping Brains With Gamma Waves

By administering mild electric currents to the brain, neuroscientists from Frankfurt University have successfully induced self-awareness in sleeping volunteers. Amazingly, the technique could be used to help people take better control of their dreams. But it's also a discovery that's offering critical insights into… » 5/14/14 9:00am 5/14/14 9:00am

10 Books That Will Change the Way You Understand the Mind

A new wave of science fiction, from the show Person of Interest to the movie Her, features artificial intelligences whose minds are truly alien. These AIs have plural selves, or many identities running in parallel; they are basically hive minds within one consciousness. But this idea of a hive mind has a long history… » 1/13/14 11:19am 1/13/14 11:19am

Do zombies experience consciousness?

In most pop-zombie lore, zombies have been infected with a contagion that turns them into mindless, soulless monsters on the hunt for human flesh. Even if a reanimated corpse used to be your mother/father/brother/girlfriend/BFF, now it's a zombie, and it has to die. End of story. But the latest film in the zombie… » 2/06/13 12:20pm 2/06/13 12:20pm

These 19th-century diagrams were one man's attempt to illustrate human…

Could you represent the stages of human consciousness with a diagram? In the late 19th century, New Zealand psychologist Benjamin Betts tried to apply mathematics to the problem of visualizing human consciousness. What he produced were striking, almost floral designs that he believed represented the shape of out… » 11/25/12 5:00pm 11/25/12 5:00pm

A new tool that could help us measure awareness in comatose patients

One of the more frustrating aspects of treating patients who are in a vegetative or minimally conscious state is that we really have no idea just how conscious or unconscious they really are. As a consequence, medical practitioners are left guessing about how to best treat their patients, while family members… » 10/16/12 2:40pm 10/16/12 2:40pm

Neuroscientists take aim at Naomi Wolf's theory of the "conscious…

Well, if Naomi Wolf wanted to draw attention to herself through the publication of her new book, Vagina: A New Biography, she has certainly succeeded — though it may not be the kind of attention she was hoping for. A number of commentators have taken exception to her unfortunate foray into neuroscience, particularly… » 9/06/12 2:40pm 9/06/12 2:40pm

Prominent scientists sign declaration that animals have conscious…

An international group of prominent scientists has signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in which they are proclaiming their support for the idea that animals are conscious and aware to the degree that humans are — a list of animals that includes all mammals, birds, and even the octopus. But will this… » 8/23/12 5:00pm 8/23/12 5:00pm

Rare neurological patient shows that self-awareness does not require a…

Neuroscientists who study consciousness have suggested that self-awareness depends on the presence of very specific "higher order" regions of the brain. In turn, that means that any serious impairment to these critical areas would virtually eliminate any sense someone has of themselves as a separate person. At least,… » 8/23/12 10:54am 8/23/12 10:54am

This man can read the minds of vegetative patients

Neuroscientist Adrian Owen estimates that 20 percent of patients in a so-called "vegetative state" are, in fact, capable of communicating with the outside world. This is not a delusion. Using brain imaging techniques like fMRI, Owen — pictured above — has provided some remarkably compelling evidence that… » 6/15/12 12:40pm 6/15/12 12:40pm