Pinker, Stephen. the Mystery of Consciousness

Topics: Mind, Unconscious mind, Philosophy of mind Pages: 2 (671 words) Published: September 2, 2013
This article begins with an example of a woman who suffered brain trauma after a car crash and now lives in a vegetative state (she is unable to respond to visual, physical, or auditory stimuli). Belgian and British scientists conducted an experiment on her through the use of an MRI that showed blood flow to parts of the brain that still remained active. After speaking to her and asking her to imagine various situations, a discovery was made showing that different regions of the brain associated with these situations “lit up.” This proved that she still had some semblance of a conscious remaining; however hidden it may appear to the naked eye. This then transitioned into one of the running themes throughout the article: the “Easy” and “Hard” problems. The Easy Problem is defined as the difference between conscious and unconscious thoughts. Scientists hope to eventually differentiate between conscious and unconscious mechanisms, identify which regions of the brain are responsible for them, and why these two separate elements evolved in the first place. The Hard Problem is slightly more complicated and researchers in this field have many dissimilar ideas about it, like whether or not it is a problem at all. It is defined as being the study of how and why neural “circuitry” and processes cause consciousness. Consciousness can also be altered through physical stimulation, such as electronic shock during surgery that can cause completely realistic hallucinations. This also includes the use of narcotics to change the way we perceive the world around us as well as influence our thoughts and feelings. Taking a look at the Easy Problem again, the question of why consciousness exists is approached. One of the reasons given is so that our brains do not become overloaded with information. If we were consciously responsible for every little muscle twitch or heartbeat, our conscious mind could not handle it, unlike our unconscious. Neuroscientists know that waves between the...
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