Consciousness is the state or quality of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself. It has been defined as: sentience, awareness, subjectivity, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind.
Wikipedia further defines it as: Despite the difficulty in definition, many philosophers believe that there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is. (How consciousness works?)
For a long time, the study of consciousness was considered too far out to study. How do you scientifically study something so subjective? How can what one person feels become something that another person can quantify? But now, in their relentless pursuit to understand every single thing about the world, scientists are trying to figure out what exactly is going on with consciousness.
Let us look at some of the topics which that show Human Consciousness has been a sandwich of facts and uncertainty
States of consciousness
There are some brain states in which consciousness seems to be absent, including dreamless sleep, coma, and death. There are also a variety of circumstances that can change the relationship between the mind and the world in less drastic ways, producing what are known as altered states of consciousness. Some altered states occur naturally; others can be produced by drugs or brain damage. Altered states can be accompanied by changes in thinking, disturbances in the sense of time, feelings of loss of control, changes in emotional expression, alternations in body image and changes in meaning or significance.
Consciousness is everywhere
New theories in neuroscience suggest consciousness is an intrinsic property of everything, just like gravity. That development opens a world of opportunity for collaboration between Buddhists and neuroscientists. ”The heart of consciousness,” says neuroscientist Christof Koch, “is that it feels like something. How is it that a piece of matter, like my brain, can feel anything?”
In 2013, Koch, one of the world’s leading experts on consciousness, went to a monastery in India to discuss that question with a group of Buddhist monks. He and the Dalai Lama debated neuroscience and mind for a full day.
They had different approaches. Koch offered contemporary scientific theories on the subject, and His Holiness countered with ancient Buddhist teachings. Yet, at the end of their discussion, the two thinkers agreed on almost every point.
Source: Sam Littlefair Wallace, Lionsroar.com
Art Changes Consciousness
Art accesses some of the most advanced processes of human intuitive analysis and expressivity and a key form of aesthetic appreciation is through embodied cognition, the ability to project oneself as an agent in the depicted scene,
– Christopher Tyler, director of the Smith-Kettlewell Brain Imaging Center
To awaken and catalyze the spiritual path of each person by providing access to the highest mystic truth through art and creative action.
– Cosm Core Value
Staring Into Someone’s Eyes For 10 Minutes Can Alter Your Consciousness
This intriguing discovery was made by vision researcher Giovanni Caputo from the University of Urbino in Italy, but it isn’t his first staring contest study. A few years ago, the scientist recruited 50 volunteers and got them to gaze upon their reflections in a mirror for 10 minutes in a dimly lit room. For many of them, it took less than one minute to start experiencing something trippy.
After 10 minutes, participants then filled in questionnaires about their experiences in the room, which revealed some rather intriguing effects. According to the British Psychological Society, those in the group that faced one another described higher levels of attenuated color intensity than controls, with noises seeming louder than they should. Time seemed to slow down and they felt spaced out. Additionally, almost 90% of them said their partner’s face appeared deformed, 75% saw monstrous beings and 15% even saw traits of a relative’s face emerge on their partner.
The sensations reported, Caputo says, indicate symptoms of dissociation, a term used to describe a departure from one’s connection with reality.
Elusive On/Off Switch Found for Human Consciousness
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.
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.
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.
Physicists Claim that Consciousness Lives in Quantum State After Death
Does quantum mechanics predict the existence of a spiritual “soul”? Testimonials from prominent physics researchers from institutions such as Cambridge University, Princeton University, and the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich claim that quantum mechanics predicts some version of “life after death.” They assert that a person may possess a body-soul duality that is an extension of the wave-particle duality of subatomic particles.
A new start-up wants to transfer your consciousness to an artificial body so you can live forever
A new start-up called Humai thinks it might be able to get rid of that inconvenient problem for us too, by promising to transfer people’s consciousness into a new, artificial body. Basically the company just wants to cryogenically freeze your brain and put it back in another body once the technology is ready to hook it up and repair it.
“When the technology is fully developed we’ll implant the brain into an artificial body,” Bocanegra explained. “The artificial body functions will be controlled with your thoughts by measuring brain waves. As the brain ages we’ll use nanotechnology to repair and improve cells. Cloning technology is going to help with this too.”
Blindsight is a strange form of consciousness
Some people who have lost their vision find a “second sight” taking over their eyes – an uncanny, subconscious sense that sheds light into the hidden depths of the human mind.
“What you want to do is to look at something that is as close to consciousness as possible, but which is lacking that specific quality, that subjective experience,” says Christopher Allen at Cardiff University. “And that’s what blindsight gives you. The participant is still perceiving, but they lack awareness of perception.”
Of particular interest has been the fact that they can sense emotion: when presented with faces, they can tell whether it is happy or sad, angry or surprised, and they even start to unconsciously mimic the expressions. “Even though they did not report anything at a conscious level, we could show a change in attitude, a synchronisation of emotional expressions to the pictures in their blind field.”
Human Consciousness Is Just a Consequence of Evolution
According to Princeton University neuroscientist Michael Graziano, this phenomenon is indicative of the key aspect of the human mind. Our brains create models of the world around us, including our bodies, in order to be attentive to the various signals we get from our senses.
There’s a funny consequence to our brains’ proficiency in model-making, Professor Michael Graziano argues in his book Consciousness and the Social Brain. That consequence is what we call consciousness, the ineffable ungraspable “I,” the magic sauce of Being that defines our essential humanness. I can be conscious that I am me and I am human. Whatever that consciousness is, is an experience. What I am asking is what set of information is that consciousness. What does it mean to have an actual subjective experience of something?
Brains construct models, informational models of all kinds of things, in fact it’s one of the things brains do best, make models of the external world and models of things going on inside your body. The theory at heart, the reason why brains attribute the property of awareness to itself, is because the brain is essentially constructing a model to monitor the fact that it is paying attention to that object. So attention is a physically real data-handling method and awareness is the brain’s cartoon sketch that’s used to keep track of what it’s doing. That it can use to keep track of what it’s doing.