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

Why Anesthesia Is One of the Greatest Medical Mysteries of Our Time

Anesthesia was a major medical breakthrough, allowing us to lose consciousness during surgery and other painful procedures. Trouble is, we're not entirely sure how it works. But now we're getting closer to solving its mystery — and with it, the mystery of consciousness itself. » 6/19/14 11:21am 6/19/14 11:21am

Scientists Discover How Octopuses Avoid Tying Themselves In Knots

There are many things that make the octopus a strange creature, but one of them is that each of its eight arms has an essentially infinite number of positions, and yet each arm operates independently. How does an octopus keep from tying itself in knots? » 5/15/14 2:28pm 5/15/14 2:28pm

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

A radical new theory by a well-respected scientist suggests that consciousness is a state of matter, like a liquid or gas. According to MIT's Max Tegmark, "perceptronium" gives rise to various types of consciousness when certain mathematical and physical conditions are met. » 4/23/14 3:20pm 4/23/14 3:20pm

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

It's surprisingly difficult to prove that you're awake

You may know when you're awake, but you can't prove it scientifically. That's because there's no objective way to distinguish between a "conscious" and "unconscious" brain. But now, scientists may have discovered the telltale neurological signature of a mind that's awake. » 12/12/13 1:27pm 12/12/13 1:27pm

The chief science officer for the Allen Institute for Brain Science says that consciousness arises within any sufficiently complex information-processing system, whether it be worms or the Internet. It's a modern take on an ancient concept: panpsychism. Wired's Brandon Keim recently caught up with Christof Koch to… » 11/14/13 3:20pm 11/14/13 3:20pm

Does consciousness arise from quantum processes in the brain?

Stuart Hameroff is a Professor of Anesthesiology and Psychology at the University of Arizona — but he's a pariah as far as most neuroscientists are concerned. The reason? Consciousness, he dares say, is far more than just a computational process — it's actually quantum. » 9/13/13 12:49pm 9/13/13 12:49pm

How Consciousness Works

Princeton neuroscientist Michael Graziano has penned a fascinating longread on the "hard scientific and philosophical problem" posed by consciousness, and a new theory that could help slice through the Gordion knot of neurons from which it springs. It's posted for your viewing pleasure over at Aeon Magazine, and… » 8/22/13 3:40pm 8/22/13 3:40pm

8 Things We Simply Don't Understand About the Human Brain

Despite all the recent advances in the cognitive and neurosciences, there’s still much about the human brain that we do not know. Here are 8 of the most baffling problems currently facing science. » 7/29/13 10:05am 7/29/13 10:05am

No, dolphins are not your 'therapists.' So just stop it.

Though it might not fit with New Age dolphin lore, the reality is that dolphins, even those born in captivity, are wild. There's absolutely no evidence to support the burgeoning practice of dolphin-assisted therapy. Here's why dolphins are not healers — and why this practice needs to stop. » 6/19/13 3:40pm 6/19/13 3:40pm

You Might Never Upload Your Brain Into a Computer

Many futurists predict that one day we'll upload our minds into computers, where we'll romp around in virtual reality environments. That's possible — but there are still a number of thorny issues to consider. Here are eight reasons why your brain may never be digitized. » 4/17/13 12:02pm 4/17/13 12:02pm

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