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ConsciousnessMatrixBy Tanya Lewis, Staff Writer

Probably for as long as humans have been able to grasp the concept of consciousness, they have sought to understand the phenomenon.

Studying the mind was once the province of philosophers, some of whom still believe the subject is inherently unknowable. But neuroscientists are making strides in developing a true science of the self.

Here are some of the best contenders for a theory of consciousness.

Cogito ergo sum

Not an easy concept to define, consciousness has been described as the state of being awake and aware of what is happening around you, and of having a sense of self. [Top 10 Mysteries of the Mind]

The 17th century French philosopher René Descartes proposed the notion of “cogito ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”), the idea that the mere act of thinking about one’s existence proves there is someone there to do the thinking.

Descartes also believed the mind was separate from the material body — a concept known as mind-body duality — and that these realms interact in the brain’s pineal gland. Scientists now reject the latter idea, but some thinkers still support the notion that the mind is somehow removed from the physical world.

But while philosophical approaches can be useful, they do not constitute testable theories of consciousness, scientists say.

“The only thing you know is, ‘I am conscious.’ Any theory has to start with that,” said Christof Koch, a neuroscientist and the chief scientific officer at the Allen Institute for Neuroscience in Seattle.

Correlates of consciousness

In the last few decades, neuroscientists have begun to attack the problem of understanding consciousness from an evidence-based perspective. Many researchers have sought to discover specific neurons or behaviors that are linked to conscious experiences.

Recently, researchers discovered a brain area that acts as a kind of on-off switch for the brain. When they electrically stimulated this region, called the claustrum, the patient became unconscious instantly. In fact, Koch and Francis Crick, the molecular biologist who famously helped discover the double-helix structure of DNA, had previously hypothesized that this region might integrate information across different parts of the brain, like the conductor of a symphony.

But looking for neural or behavioral connections to consciousness isn’t enough, Koch said. For example, such connections don’t explain why the cerebellum, the part of the brain at the back of the skull that coordinates muscle activity, doesn’t give rise to consciousness, while the cerebral cortex (the brain’s outermost layer) does. This is the case even though the cerebellum contains more neurons than the cerebral cortex.

Nor do these studies explain how to tell whether consciousness is present, such as in brain-damaged patients, other animals or even computers. [Super-Intelligent Machines: 7 Robotic Futures]

Neuroscience needs a theory of consciousness that explains what the phenomenon is and what kinds of entities possess it, Koch said. And currently, only two theories exist that the neuroscience community takes seriously, he said.

Integrated information

Neuroscientist Giulio Tononi of the University of Wisconsin-Madison developed one of the most promising theories for consciousness, known as integrated information theory.

Understanding how the material brain produces subjective experiences, such as the color green or the sound of ocean waves, is what Australian philosopher David Chalmers calls the “hard problem” of consciousness. Traditionally, scientists have tried to solve this problem with a bottom-up approach. As Koch put it, “You take a piece of the brain and try to press the juice of consciousness out of [it].” But this is almost impossible, he said.

In contrast, integrated information theory starts with consciousness itself, and tries to work backward to understand the physical processes that give rise to the phenomenon, said Koch, who has worked with Tononi on the theory.

The basic idea is that conscious experience represents the integration of a wide variety of information, and that this experience is irreducible. This means that when you open your eyes (assuming you have normal vision), you can’t simply choose to see everything in black and white, or to see only the left side of your field of view.

Instead, your brain seamlessly weaves together a complex web of information from sensory systems and cognitive processes. Several studies have shown that you can measure the extent of integration using brain stimulation and recording techniques.

The integrated information theory assigns a numerical value, “phi,” to the degree of irreducibility. If phi is zero, the system is reducible to its individual parts, but if phi is large, the system is more than just the sum of its parts.

This system explains how consciousness can exist to varying degrees among humans and other animals. The theory incorporates some elements of panpsychism, the philosophy that the mind is not only present in humans, but in all things.

An interesting corollary of integrated information theory is that no computer simulation, no matter how faithfully it replicates a human mind, could ever become conscious. Koch put it this way: “You can simulate weather in a computer, but it will never be ‘wet.'”

Global Workspace

Another promising theory suggests that consciousness works a bit like computer memory, which can call up and retain an experience even after it has passed.

Bernard Baars, a neuroscientist at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, California, developed the theory, which is known as the global workspace theory. This idea is based on an old concept from artificial intelligence called the blackboard, a memory bank that different computer programs could access.

Anything from the appearance of a person’s face to a memory of childhood can be loaded into the brain’s blackboard, where it can be sent to other brain areas that will process it. According to Baars’ theory, the act of broadcasting information around the brain from this memory bank is what represents consciousness.

The global workspace theory and integrated information theories are not mutually exclusive, Koch said. The first tries to explain in practical terms whether something is conscious or not, while the latter seeks to explain how consciousness works more broadly.

“At this point, both could be true,” Koch said.

Source: LiveScience

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When I was a child about nine years old or so, I embarked on a mission to discover the barrier between waking and sleeping. I believed that if I concentrated each night before falling asleep, I would recognize the moment I slipped out of consciousness and into dream. I never found the precise line — although I did, unintentionally, teach myself to lucid dream.

But now there is research showing that the brain does have an on/off switch that triggers unconsciousness. Mohamad Koubeissi at the George Washington University in Washington DC and his colleagues describe for the first time a way to switch off consciousness by electrically stimulating a part of the brain called the claustrum.

Simulating The Human Brain

Their accidental discovery could lead to a deeper understanding of a fundamental mystery of the human brain; that is, how conscious awareness arises.

The discovery came while the researchers were studying a woman who has epilepsy. During a procedure, they used deep brain electrodes to record signals from different parts of her brain in order to determine where here seizures were originating. One electrode was place next to the claustrum, a thin, sheet-like structure underneath the neocortex. Although this area has never been electrically stimulated before, it had been implicated in the past as a possible control center for consciousness by neuroscientist Francis Crick, who identified the structure of DNA, and his colleague Christof Koch of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle.

Koubeissi and his team found that Crick and Koch might have been on to something. When they stimulated the area with electrical impulses from the brain electrodes, the woman stopped reading, stared blankly into space and didn’t respond to auditory or visual commands. Her breathing slowed as well. She had lost consciousness. When the scientists turned off the electrical stimuli, she immediately regained consciousness with no memory of blanking out. Additional attempts were tried over two days and each time, the same thing happened.

New Scientist reported on the results and in the article Koubeissi says he thinks the claustrum indeed plays a vital role in triggering conscious. “I would liken it to a car,” he told New Scientist reporter Helen Thompson.

“A car on the road has many parts that facilitate its movement – the gas, the transmission, the engine – but there’s only one spot where you turn the key and it all switches on and works together. So while consciousness is a complicated process created via many structures and networks – we may have found the key.”

Project To Map The Human Brain

One researcher, Anil Seth, who studies consciousness at the University of Sussex, UK, pointed out that the woman in the study had had part of her hippocampus removed earlier as a way to treat her epilepsy, so she doesn’t represent a “normal” brain.

Additional research is needed. But the results could open wide a door on one of the most mysterious aspects of existence. We could determine once and for all what living creatures are aware of themselves and the world around them.

Source: Discovery

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Exactly what happens when people wake up from anesthesia or a coma has long baffled scientists, but now new research on rats suggests the path the brain takes to regain consciousness may be even more sophisticated than thought.

“It is commonly assumed that waking from anesthesia is a simple thing: The drugs leave the brain, and the effects they produced in the brain get washed out, and the brain somehow recovers,” said Dr. Alex Proekt, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. “But that ‘somehow’ part is poorly understood.”

The researchers looked at the brain’s activity patterns, hypothesizing that the activity follows a structured path, changing in a specific way as the brain moves toward consciousness. The researchers wanted to know whether the brain moves from one activity state to the next, in a stepwise fashion, or whether the brain can go from any given state to a number of other states, and therefore, that there are multiple routes to consciousness.

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To examine the brain’s trajectory while recovering consciousness, Proekt and colleagues recorded the electrical activity of certain brain regions in anesthetized rats. They slowly lowered the concentration of anesthetic vapor that the animals were breathing, until they eventually woke up.

The analysis of the rats’ brain activity suggested that the brain passes through several distinct activity states to become conscious. The researchers found that only certain transitions between activity states are possible, and some states do form hubs that connect groups of otherwise disconnected states. [10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Brain]

“Although many paths through the network are possible, to ultimately enter the activity state compatible with consciousness, the brain must first pass through these hubs in an orderly fashion,” the researchers wrote in their study published today (June 9) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Trapped in a coma

The researchers said the new findings could one day be used to help people in a coma. The brains of people under anesthesia as well as comatose patients show an electrical pattern known as burst suppression, which is characterized by periods of spikes in activity, alternating with periods of silence.

Both general anesthesia and coma are major perturbations to brain’s normal activity, and in some cases, the brain cannot find its way back to consciousness.

“Some people, after injury, will remain in some minimally conscious state forever, but some people can recover years after the injury,” Proekt said.

“One interesting possibility is that perhaps the injury can act to remove some of these loops, so in a sense you are trapped in one of these states,” Proekt told Live Science.

In order to help comatose patients, scientists will first have to examine whether the same phenomenon they observed in rats also exists in the human brain, and then explore how it may be possible to push the brain out of one state so it can proceed further toward recovery, Proekt said.

‘Clinically Dead’ Woman Alive and Well

Awake during surgery

Although anesthesiologists have long been able to successfully put people to sleep, they still can’t be 100 percent sure that a patient is truly unconscious, rather than just unable to respond.

Understanding the transitions between activity states that happen during the brain’s recovering from anesthesia may be the first step to finding a way to detect when someone is on the verge of waking up, Proekt said.

“It’s not a common problem, but it is a petrifying scenario to imagine — being paralyzed and awake for surgery,” he said.

Studies have suggested that a very small number of patients experience awaking during surgery, but it is also possible that a larger number of people have some awareness during surgery but don’t recall afterwards, Proekt said.

Source: Discovery

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By Grazyna Fosar and Franz Bludorf

The human DNA is a biological Internet and superior in many aspects to the artificial one. The latest Russian scientific research directly or indirectly explains phenomena such as clairvoyance, intuition, spontaneous and remote acts of healing, self healing, affirmation techniques, unusual light/auras around people (namely spiritual masters), the mind’s influence on weather patterns and much more.

In addition, there is evidence for a whole new type of medicine in which DNA can be influenced and reprogrammed by words and frequencies WITHOUT cutting out and replacing single genes.

Only 10% of our DNA is being used for building proteins. It is this subset of DNA that is of interest to western researchers and is being examined and categorized. The other 90% are considered “junk DNA. The Russian researchers, however, convinced that nature was not dumb, joined linguists and geneticists in a venture to explore those 90% of “junk DNA”. Their results, findings and conclusions are simply revolutionary!

According to them, our DNA is not only responsible for the construction of our body but also serves as data storage and communication. The Russian linguists found that the genetic code, especially in the apparently useless 90%, follows the same rules as all our human languages. To this end they compared the rules of syntax (the way in which words are put together to form phrases and sentences), semantics (the study of meaning in language forms) and the basic rules of grammar.

They found that the alkalines of our DNA follow regular grammar and do have set rules just like our languages. So human languages did not appear coincidentally but are a reflection of our inherent DNA.

The Russian biophysicist and molecular biologist Pjotr Garjajev and his colleagues also explored the vibrational behavior of the DNA. [For the sake of brevity I will give only a summary here. For further exploration please refer to the appendix at the end of this article.]

The bottom line was:
“Living chromosomes function just like solitonic/holographic computers using the endogenous DNA laser radiation.” Read more…

Source: Waking Times

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BY SONIA BARRETT

I wrote an article a few days ago not realizing the stir it would have generated. The article was titled Enough with this “Blissed” out Agenda. There were many who felt inspired by it and there were a few who came at me as if I was the Antichrist. Those who were inspired were those who apparently had drawn the same conclusions as I had but had never really voiced it at least not in an open forum.

I however voiced it yet this was not the first time. No I did not play it safe. I recognize that many are hungry for something else but when all that seem to be there is the same old same old then some will hang in there in silence and some will retreat quietly to themselves. One focus point of the article addressed the art of channeling and its followers. Those who were annoyed with the article seemed to be those who avid supporters of channeling or those who simply just did not agree for whatever their reasons were.

Before going further with this article let me say very clearly once again that all of it is valid this cannot be stressed enough. We are operating according to what we find essential and appropriate. This also does not mean that one is superior over the other or that one is lesser or greater or that one is chosen and the other not. The writing of that article was all by design and everyone who read it did so for a reason regardless of the opinion which was formed.

There are no mistakes! It is advisable that one ask themselves why they were prompted to read it…and I must ask myself why I wrote it and why did I choose to put myself out there in this manner. Well I have certainly had to grow a thick layer of skin since then. Was I upset when I wrote the article? No. It is the reason for the humorous style in approaching the subject matter.

I have learned that to play it safe when it comes to my own evolution and what I am feeling inside is to deny myself the opportunity to grow by leaps and bounds… to avoid misinterpretation let me clarify that this statement applies to me; I cannot speak for anyone else. However I realize the manner in which playing it safe can limit one to a predictable set of possibilities. Predictability is a safe space, it is the familiar.

It is why many find it challenging to let go of the past despite the challenges of the past, none the less the past provides a reference point for predictable outcomes. This creates the rewind effect. Every next moment is then created from the patterns of the past with slight variations to the experience. Others will say but “sometimes you need to play it safe” that could be defined perhaps as diplomacy. Yes I agree so it is then up to the individual to determine when to apply the brakes and when to hit the gas.

We are all very protective of our holograms by that I mean our individual construct of reality. It is the reason why we are ready to defend it. Our holograms are guarded by our egos. We come out with heavy artillery as we are our own military for our reality; we must fight to protect it at all cost from all foreign invaders. We stand guard ready to zone in on that one word or that one look that signals opposition, this of course activates the defense system.

We are programmed to survive; our survival program is running 24/7 it is why most of our society operates on a daily basis in the survival mode, the “fight or flight” mode. This entire process is duplicated in the overall hologram; countries fighting to defend themselves from foreign invaders. Again much misunderstanding has set off many wars. It’s always about a fight to defend our county, our land, our territory, our religious/spiritual beliefs, our culture and of course our planet from foreign invaders.

This is what we all do, again this is not a judgment this is an observation. Defend it if you will for in that moment you will see the very thing that I am speaking of. In truth and in fact what are we defending? Do we really know what it is that we are defending? Yet all of it is the nature of the experience on the planet. The entire spectrum of experiences navigates us through our goal in exploring the full range of possibilities in being human. So in other words being in survival mode or not being in survival mode is ok either way.

We are experiencing the range according to what is needed. I too found myself wanting to defend myself, defend the article, but from what? Would I be defending myself from not playing it safe? The experience was what I created for myself. There was no hiding; it was a matter of owning my expression. It gave me new dimension into myself and where I go from here.

It is the physical part of us that does the reacting. These bodies are the vehicle designed for the processing of these experiences, it processes a chemical response; electrochemical impulses. These bodies are designed to “survive”, to protect itself from invaders. We have however turned over complete control to these bodies and so much of our thoughts and actions are run by the “survival” system in place. We are on autopilot.

It is why our diets can destroy the body, it is because the frequency of the thought field and belief systems are of an equivalent vibration and therefore unable to override or penetrate the frequency patterns of the substance being ingested. We have stabilized foods to particular frequencies as can be observed in its form and its chemical makeup. We are unable to un-stabilize the molecular patterns to the realization that “there is no spoon, it is you that bends”. This is what we are all working towards regardless of the road we may take, regardless of what we are aware of. It is about coming to the realization that there is no spoon. This analogy is supported by breakthroughs in quantum physics. It is the observer that creates the illusion of the bending spoon.

Here is a quote from The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot.

“University of London physicist David Bohm, for example, believes Aspect’s findings imply that objective reality does not exist, that despite its apparent solidity the Universe is at heart a phantasm, a gigantic and splendidly detailed hologram.”

To understand why Bohm makes this startling assertion, one must first understand a little about holograms.  Read more…

Source: Spirit in Form

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