Scientists across the countries have struggled for centuries to get to the bottom of the truth—wherein the physical source of consciousness relating to the exact location of awareness lies.
Despite advancements in neuroscience, it has not been possible to cross the hump. The ignorance still prevails about its source—where-from arousal comes and how it is generated or arises.
The research is still in its infant stage. There is a lot to understand regarding how it affects patients in critical stage. No doubt for the first time, the scientists have found a connection between brainstem region involved in arousal and regions involving awareness which play a proactive role in human consciousness on its two critical components—arousal and awareness.
Research suggests that arousal gets activated and regulated by brainstem, the portion of the brain linking the spinal cord and controlling our sleeping, awakening, and heart rate and breathing pattern. Awareness, the experts opine, resides in the cortex –the outer layer of the brain, but it is so elusive that none can make it out or understand it in its entirety. There is still a lot of grey area to be visited by the scientists.
However, fortunately, the Harvard team of scientists have been able to not only identify the specific brain stem portion linked to arousal, but also understand two cortex regions that form consciousness. The team found this through an in-depth study of 36 patients in a hospital with brains having stem lesions—12 in coma stage and 24 in conscious stage.
The team mapped the brain stem to figure out where consciousness lies despite being in coma state .They found that it is located in one small area of brainstem, known as Pontine tegmentum, one in the left ventral, anterior insula (AI) and the other in pACC (pregenual anterior cingulate cortex).
These studies, the current one and the earlier ones, have link with earlier studies on arousal and awareness. However, it is the first time they have been linked to the brainstem.
The research work though in the initial stage could go a long way in promoting new treatment for patients in coma or critical or vegetative state.
Let us rejoice a bit that Harvard team of scientists have been able to crack this hard nut on the physical source of consciousness. They are now focused on scaling new highs through their innovative research for the benefit of society.
Good Luck to the team for their innovative medical feat highlighting a network of three specific regions in the brain stem critical to consciousness.
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