Ian Weinberg

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The Inconvenient Truth about Consciousness

The Inconvenient Truth about Consciousness





Human consciousness is universally recognized as a function of the organ referred to as the brain. And while mental and emotional function has been correlated with some components of neuro-anatomy and neuro-physiology, the phenomenon of cognitive consciousness has not been neatly bedded down insofar as the model of the human brain is concerned.

This is illustrated by two seemingly unrelated scientific observations which throw a spanner in the works of conventional neuro-science.

The first case is that of Pam Reynolds who underwent the clipping of a cerebral aneurysm. Due to the nature and position of the aneurysm, the following measures were implemented to facilitate the procedure:

1.Deep general anaesthesia

2.Eyes taped shut

3.Induced hypothermia

4.EEG monitoring to confirm flat line (devoid of cerebral activity) throughout the procedure

5.Continuous auditory evoked potential with ear plugs in place – confirmed zero neuro-electric activity throughout the procedure

6.Cessation of cerebral blood flow just prior to and during the clipping phase

Despite this, the patient was later able to describe the instruments used and repeated the conversation that took place between the surgeons just prior to the clipping, when all the above measures were fully implemented. The timeline of the patient’s subjective experience referenced to actual events indicated clarity of consciousness when the records show zero neurophysiological activity.

The second observation relates to the phenomenon of terminal lucidity. Nahm et al describe a large sample of patients with advanced neuro-degenerative conditions, most of whom had documented involutional tissue loss (atrophy and/or multiple infarct pathology) and chronically compromised cognitive function but who regained near normal cognitive function just prior to death.

Clearly there is more to consciousness than merely a mechanistic, organ-based function. Perhaps these observations are too inconvenient to incorporate into our neat neuro-scientific package. However if we are to remain authentic as scientists then at some stage we will have to engage these inconvenient truths. And the inconvenience gets a whole lot worse…. because if consciousness is not localized to the brain, then does it persist after physical brain death? And so the plot thickens … As neuro-scientists we may well have to take a course in quantum physics to find the missing parts of our model!


References

www.near-death.com/experiences/evidence01.html

Nahm, M., Greyson, B., Kelly, E.W. & Haraldsson, E. (2011). Terminal Lucidity: A Review and a Case Collection. Archives      of Gerontology and Geriatrics. Doi:10.1016/j.archger.2011.06.031


Post-script: The merits of the Reynold's case have been debated in the medical and other scientific literature for several years. The battle lines have been drawn, as expected, between those who are prepared to extend the neuro-scientific model and those for whom the implications of the case are just too inconvenient to integrate. Just to give you a taste of the intensity of the ongoing 'conflict' see -   

                
                                                              Copyright reserved - Ian Weinberg 2016



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Ian Weinberg

Ian Weinberg

4 years ago #10

#22
All shall be revealed to the seeing eye!

Cyndi wilkins

Cyndi wilkins

4 years ago #9

AWE truly is in the eye of the beholder;-) Another gem worth a second look by Ian Weinberg....

Cyndi wilkins

Cyndi wilkins

4 years ago #8

"Clearly there is more to consciousness than merely a mechanistic, organ-based function." Indeed...However, I do understand the mind of the skeptic...Altered states of consciousness is unique to the experiencer...so reading about it in a book or studying a case such as Pamela's certainly does not fully grasp the gravity (or lack thereof;-) of such extraordinary phenomena for the observer...That said, eventually we will all have our 'experience'....I just prefer to do it while still inhabiting a physical body...Perhaps someday science will figure out a way to demonstrate and document non-physical phenomena in a way that is acceptable to all evolving human beings;-)

Fancy J London

Fancy J London

4 years ago #7

This make me think that our conciousness might be our soul that so many believe lives on when our bodies do not... hmm? Love this! Thank you for sharing this with me! Ian Weinberg

Ian Weinberg

Ian Weinberg

5 years ago #6

Foot-note: The merits of the Reynold's case have been debated in the medical and other scientific literature for several years. The battle lines have been drawn, as expected, between those who are prepared to extend the neuro-scientific model and those for whom the implications of the case are just too inconvenient to integrate. Just to give you a taste of the intensity of the ongoing 'conflict' see http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2012/05/click-on-this.html

Alexa Steele

Alexa Steele

5 years ago #5

Fascinating. There's so much our brains don't yet comprehend about how our brains work!

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #4

It is probably true, @Ian Weinberg, that we are no closer to resolving the Mind-Brain connection that we were a hundred years ago, despite all of the advances in neuro-research and neurological science. Interesting assessment, assuming that the observational citations are solid. Thank you for highlighting this fascinating issue.

Sara Jacobovici

Sara Jacobovici

5 years ago #3

I think Milos Djukic, you might find this buzz interesting, especially the following, "However if we are to remain authentic as scientists then at some stage we will have to engage these inconvenient truths."

Sara Jacobovici

Sara Jacobovici

5 years ago #2

Glad I came across your Buzz Ian Weinberg. Well written, well said. Looks like I have a lot of catching up to do with the reading all of your earlier Buzzes.

don kerr

don kerr

5 years ago #1

Fascinating tit-bit. Just wish there was more. Will visit the reference site. Many thanks for the prompt Ian Weinberg

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