Addiction

Cannabis users require more sedation for endoscopy

Patients who use cannabis required higher levels of sedation during gastric endoscopies than non-users, according to research to be presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2022. As cannabis is legalized in more places and ...

Neuroscience

When unconscious, the brain is anything but 'silent'

The cerebral cortex is thought to be the seat of conscious processing in the brain. Rather than being inactivated, specific cells in the cortex show higher spontaneous activity during general anesthesia than when awake, and ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Mystery liver disease kills three children in Indonesia

Three children in Indonesia have died from a mysterious liver disease, the country's health ministry said, raising to at least four the global death toll of a fatal ailment puzzling doctors from the US to Asia.

Medications

Anesthetic drastically diverts the travel of brain waves

Imagine the conscious brain as a sea roiling with the collisions and dispersals of waves of different sizes and shapes, swirling around and flowing across in many different directions. Now imagine that an ocean liner lumbers ...

Neuroscience

Quantifying human consciousness with the help of AI

New research supported by the EU-funded HBP SGA3 and DoCMA projects is giving scientists new insight into human consciousness. Led by Korea University and projects' partner University of Li├Ęge (Belgium), the research team ...

Neuroscience

Bump to the head? Watch for any concerning symptoms

Head trauma can range from mild to severe, accounting for about one million visits to emergency departments in the United States each year. The leading causes are motor vehicle accidents, falls and assaults. The injuries ...

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Consciousness

Consciousness is a term that refers to the relationship between the mind and the world with which it interacts. It has been defined as: subjectivity, awareness, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind. Despite the difficulty in definition, many philosophers believe that there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is. As Max Velmans and Susan Schneider wrote in The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness: "Anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making conscious experience at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives."

Philosophers since the time of Descartes and Locke have struggled to comprehend the nature of consciousness and pin down its essential properties. Issues of concern in the philosophy of consciousness include whether the concept is fundamentally valid; whether consciousness can ever be explained mechanistically; whether non-human consciousness exists and if so how it can be recognized; how consciousness relates to language; and whether it may ever be possible for computers or robots to be conscious. Perhaps the thorniest issue is whether consciousness can be understood in a way that does not require a dualistic distinction between mental and physical states or properties.

At one time consciousness was viewed with skepticism by many scientists, but in recent years it has become a significant topic of research in psychology and neuroscience. The primary focus is on understanding what it means biologically and psychologically for information to be present in consciousness—that is, on determining the neural and psychological correlates of consciousness. The majority of experimental studies assess consciousness by asking human subjects for a verbal report of their experiences (e.g., "tell me if you notice anything when I do this"). Issues of interest include phenomena such as subliminal perception, blindsight, denial of impairment, and altered states of consciousness produced by psychoactive drugs or spiritual or meditative techniques.

In medicine, consciousness is assessed by observing a patient's arousal and responsiveness, and can be seen as a continuum of states ranging from full alertness and comprehension, through disorientation, delirium, loss of meaningful communication, and finally loss of movement in response to painful stimuli. Issues of practical concern include how the presence of consciousness can be assessed in severely ill, comatose, or anesthetized people, and how to treat conditions in which consciousness is impaired or disrupted.

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