The switch to turn the brain off and on discovered!

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What if you could control your brain? What if you could turn it off and then turn it on at will? Impossible, right? You would be happy to know that scientists have found that part of the brain which controls our conscious. And the most interesting part about this finding is that the scientists accidentally happened to find it while studying an epileptic patient.

The scientists at George Washington University used deep brain electrodes to control the brain of the patient. They were trying to figure out the area of the brain that was causing seizures. When they placed the electrodes on the claustrum and sent high frequency electrical signals, the patient gradually lost consciousness. Instant of just turning off instantly, the patient slowly and gradually reached that stage of complete turn off. As soon as the electrical stimulation was switched off, she gained consciousness and had no memory of the turn of events.

It is noteworthy to add that claustrum has never been studied with deep brain electrodes. It is a thin sheet of neurons that run between major areas of the brain.

While this is an early stage to say anything, it has the potential to treat patients with epilepsy or those in semi-conscious states. Just knowing this part of the brain and its capacity will be extremely useful to conduct deeper studies and for understanding the concept further.

Researcher Christof Koch told New Scientist, “Ultimately, if we know how consciousness is created and which parts of the brain are involved then we can understand who has it and who doesn’t. Do robots have it? Do fetuses? Does a cat or dog or worm? This study is incredibly intriguing but it is one brick in a large edifice of consciousness that we’re trying to build.”

Source: New Scientist

Kalpana Sharma
She has worked with some of the esteemed publications in India like Times Life- the Sunday supplement of India’s leading daily, Times of India, The Man and Smart Life magazines