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Consciousness and Your Brain

The human consciousness was a mystery that stirred the minds of the greatest philosophers back in ancient times, and the disputes around the topic even nowadays cause major controversies in scientific communities. Modern technologies allow scientists to study the ongoing processes in a living brain, which made a precise mapping of its regions and their functions possible (TED, 2011). Although scientists can not yet claim that it is fully known how brains make consciousness, the question is on the brink of its resolution.

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To generate a conscious self, a brain needs to have some initial input information. Although a consciousness does not only serve as a response to outside interactions, one’s personal experiences lie in the foundation of his/her consciousness, only then one can apply consciousness introspectively. Without any interactions with the outside world, the brain would only receive autonomic sensory information that tells it about the condition of the body, which is regulated subconsciously (Barclay, 2020). To obtain any new information, people need to construct a neural map of that information.

It involves image-plotting regions of the brain, which require somatic sensory information, and the association cortex connects and structures the data gathered by those regions (TED, 2011). To generate a new idea or to imagine something, the brain still needs to use the data it has acquired before through sensory input. Even when the brain produces an image from memory, it uses the association cortex to send the stored data back to the very same regions that are responsible for perception (TED, 2011). Therefore, it is impossible to acquire new information without any sensory stimulation because of the process behind it.

An average human is driven by mental causations such as feelings, beliefs, desires, etc. Even a simple physical event like waving a hand to greet somebody is caused by a mental desire to do so. Despite the philosophical implications of dualism, the line of whether humans can or can not influence physical evens solely by mental efforts ends here. The notion of pain, however, only exists within one’s mind and serves as an alert from a nervous system about a potential injury.

Certain conditions can interrupt or warp this function of the brain and stem, causing psychogenic pains. Such conditions include, but are not restricted to, the chemical imbalance caused by stress, phantom limb pain, or various mental disorders. Some of these conditions, such as chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, can be hard to identify due to the lack of tests for them.

Since the topic still presents a vast research field of undiscovered information on the body’s inner mechanisms, this course will help me to understand the core unresolved mysteries of consciousness. I would like to learn more about the main approaches and problems in studying consciousness, how neurons in human brains deliver, process, and store information, and how neural mapping of the brain works.

It is also interesting to me to learn how scientists approach a question of non-human consciousness and the process of generation of consciousness in infants. I would also like to know more about mental disorders and their research from the point of view of neuroscience. I believe that this knowledge will not only help me in my future career, but will also allow me to better understand the nature of human beings.

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Barclay, T. (2020). Nervous system. Web.

TED. (2011). The quest to understand consciousness | Antonio Damasio [Video]. YouTube. Web.

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