Can the brain be divorced from the body or independent of the body and exist on its own? For a long time, philosophers have pondered such a “brain in a vat” scenario and asked if an isolated brain could maintain consciousness when it was separated from its body and sensations.
Usually, a person’s experience is Human brainBody and environment.
However, recent developments in neuroscience mean that this conversation has moved from the realm of hypothetical speculation and science fiction to isolated examples where consciousness can be blocked from other parts of the world. increase.
The 2020 survey has more details in the journal Trends in neuroscience (Opens in a new tab)Tim Bain, a philosopher at Monash University in Melbourne, Anil Seth, a neuroscientist at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, and Marcello Massimini at the University of Milan, Italy, say that such an “island of consciousness” may exist. Explains about.
In one possible situation, the brain removed from the host can maintain consciousness using the oxygen and nutrients needed for the function provided through certain devices. this is, Former skull brain.
and A study that sounds like something from a horror movie (Opens in a new tab)Researchers were able to successfully restore blood flow to brain cells, neuronal cell function, and spontaneous synaptic activity in the pig’s brain, which was removed after death and connected to a system called BrainEx. .. The system is designed to delay the degeneration of postmortem brain tissue and can connect to the base of the postmortem brain to supply warm artificial oxygenated blood.
One in people suffering from severe refractory epilepsy A treatment called hemispherectomy (Opens in a new tab) Half of the damaged brain should be completely separated from the other hemispheres, brainstem and thalamus. In these cases, the damaged half remains inside the skull and connects to the vascular system. The amputated hemisphere continues to receive the nutrients and oxygen needed for function, but some wonder if this isolated hemisphere supports consciousness adjacent to the contralateral connected hemisphere.
And the scientist created Lab-based mini brainA 3D structure developed from stem cells that show various characteristics of the developing human brain.Some of these Brain in a dish has brain waves Similar to that found in preterm infants.
But is any of these “brains” really conscious?
Scientists can’t Deduction Neither the behavioral consciousness in these cases nor the ability to ask these brains if they are experiencing consciousness. This conundrum has led neuroscientists to devise a potential “objective” measure of consciousness.
For example, scientists can use the so-called Perturbation Complexity Index (PCI), which is based on the level of interaction between neurons in these “brain.” Using this indicator, scientists electrically stimulate parts of the brain and measure the patterns of resulting neural activity to measure the complexity of brain-cell interactions. The system is more conscious if the resulting measurements of these interactions contain a lot of information.
It’s like throwing a rock into a pond and measuring the resulting ripples. As the ripples interact with other objects in the pond and the ripples increase, the system becomes more aware.
In states where people are completely unconscious, PCI was a reliable indicator of their level of consciousness. For example, being in a coma or sleeping is considered a “lower” level of consciousness or consciousness.
“PCI has proven to be effective in detecting disconnected perceptions while dreaming. Ketamine anesthesia (Opens in a new tab)And also applied to be fruitful Patients who do not respond after severe brain injury (Opens in a new tab)“Bane told Live Science.
Consciousness may be closely related to the dynamics of the brain, which is relatively easy to measure, as in the case of PCI.
However, even if consciousness does not prove to be reducible to neural signals in the brain, Bain believes that the task of developing an “objective” measure of consciousness remains valid.
These techniques may not be able to explicitly answer the question of whether consciousness exists in these contexts, but the island of consciousness has the same level of neural complexity as the brain of a conscious subject. It provides answers to some basic questions, such as whether you are. Or do these brains slowly go offline when separated from the outside world?
Understanding what the content of consciousness looks like in such cases presents an even more difficult problem.
Originally published on Live Science.
Can the mind sustain when they are separated from the world?
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