Conscious Experience Integrated in the Claustrum?

Recent experiments involving electrical stimulation suggest that there exists a brain center in humans, called the claustrum, that integrates our experience of the world. We already know that consciousness is not an ethereal concept, but a brain function that can be switched on and off – and now it looks like this center can be switched off by an electrical stimulation.

Claustrum

The late Francis Crick, the Nobel laureate and co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, proposed that this is the area where conscious experience is integrated:

“a rose is a rose because it has a specific scent and feel, and it is red. The neurons for olfactory, tactile and visual responses are spread out in the brain. What then integrates our experience of a rose? …the claustrum relates to processes that give rise to integrated conscious percepts.”

Crick further argued that the claustrum is ideally located to receive signals from different regions of the brain’s cortex and overlap and integrate them. In this way the claustrum functions like a conductor in an orchestra, where all the musicians are the brain’s cortical regions. In an orchestra as in the brain, synchrony is all. Without the claustrum, everything becomes cacophonous, but with it we can enjoy the complete symphony of life. Read more about the discovery here:

http://newsjunkiepost.com/2014/09/22/what-is-consciousness-and-do-humans-have-a-monopoly-on-it/

The academical abstract and article here:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1525505014002017

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3 Responses to Conscious Experience Integrated in the Claustrum?

  1. George Davis says:

    I don’t think the fact that you can disrupt consciousness proves that this is the center of consciousness.

    • diplopi says:

      I totally agree that correlation does not imply causation. But the fact that stimulating the claustrum disrupts consciousness, suggests that it is an important part of the conscious experience. Maybe like a spark plug or a gear in a car; not the center or the motor but an important part for the car to work. More research has to be done on the topic and the maybe claustrum will give us some more clues to how the whole consciousness thing works?

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