Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dawn of Consciousnesss

The concept of “consciousness” is typically of interest to brain function researchers. For decades, neuroscientists have been looking for an unmistakable signal of consciousness in electrical brain activity. For one thing, this type of evidence could help determine whether minimally conscious or anesthetized adults are aware. For another, it could help explain when consciousness begins in babies. "We make the assumption that babies are learning very quickly and that they're fully unconscious of what they learn," said cognitive neuroscientist Sid Kouider of CNRS, the French National Research Agency in Paris. "Maybe that's not true." The team monitored infants' brain activity through caps fitted with electrodes and watched for swings in electrical activity, called event-related potentials (ERPs), in the babies' brains. The exciting results indicated that the babies displayed glimmers of consciousness and memory as early as 5 months old (and perhaps even younger). [ Sid Kouider et al., A Neural Marker of Perceptual Consciousness in Infants, Science, 2013, DOI: 10.1126/science.1232509 ]

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