According to Science Daily, the nature of consciousness is more of a philosophical puzzle than a mystery. Conscious experience is assumed to be the result of electrochemical processes in the human brain; however, how this happens is currently under investigation.
The answer has far-reaching ramifications for the knowledge of brain health, ranging from a coma, in which a person is alive but unable to move or respond to their surroundings, through surgical anesthetic, to schizophrenia’s impaired mental processes.
The origins of consciousness are currently understood to be a network phenomenon rather than a distinct brain region. On the other hand, understanding the complicated network of brain connections that gives rise to consciousness has been difficult.
The use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), an imaging technology that depicts brain activity by tracking blood flow changes over time, offers a novel method to describe and understand consciousness.”
Studying consciousness is like trying to solve a jumbled Rubik’s cube,” explains Zirui Huang, Ph.D., assistant professor of anesthesiology at the University of Michigan Medical School. “One surface’s complicated structure may throw you off. To be addressed, this problem must be attacked from all angles.”
Each part of awareness can be viewed as a distinct dimension. They have three forms of sensory organization. Arousability, or the ability of the brain to be awake, awareness of what we see, such as the color red, and sensory integration.
Despite this, only a genuine attempt was made for a long time to relate any of these qualities to brain activity. Anthony Hudetz, DBM, Ph.D., and George Mashour, M.D., Ph.D., professor and head of the Department of Anesthesiology and founder of the Center for Consciousness Science, commissioned a study to see if brain geometry may throw light on these intangible mental characteristics.
They identified these so-called cortical gradients of consciousness by studying fMRI data from people awake, under anesthesia, in a coma, or suffering from mental diseases such as schizophrenia. The scientists used these gradients to assess the relationship between these states and illnesses across 400 brain areas.
The researchers discovered the arousal, consciousness, and sensory organization levels to be mapped to three different gradients in the cerebral cortex. According to the study’s principal scientist, Hudetz, what was previously mapped only as a helpful representation of conscious states may now be mapped in the brain itself. Our findings give additional insight into Huang’s description of the mind-brain interaction.
He explains that the findings may be used to deliver brain-based diagnostics or assessments for neurological disorders in the future. “This research coincides with our objective to gain deeper knowledge while enhancing clinical therapy,” Dr. Mashour said, “and it represents an essential addition to the science of consciousness.”