The new discovery in mammals may help scientists know more about consciousness
An article in Science Alert reports that the neuron is “so densely connected across both hemispheres, it could finally explain the origins of consciousness.” The research was presented at a meeting last month of the Brain Research though Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies initiative in Bethesda, Maryland.
The recently discovered neuron is one of three that have been found in a mammal’s brain using a new imaging technique. Researchers who found it say the largest one wraps about the brain like a “crown of thorns.” This neuron emanates from one of the best-connected regions of the brain that we still know very little about called the claustrum, a thin sheet of gray matter believed to control consciousness in some way. The claustrum is so densely connected to several crucial brain areas that Francis Crick, a scientist famous for the DNA double helix discovery, refers to it as a “conductor of consciousness.”
Some strange medical cases over the years have made the case stronger for the theory that the claustrum acts like a conductor of an orchestra in the brain. Read more here about the fascinating case of a 54-year-old woman who was being treated for epilepsy.
Researchers are awaiting confirmation of their findings before “delving further into what this could mean for humans.” These latest neurons have only been found in mice so far. But they do agree that this finding can help us make to progress in understanding this mysterious part of the brain.
Since you are here…
…we’d like to have one more word with you. We are excited to report that Aleteia’s readership is growing at a rapid rate, world-wide! Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. But quality journalism has a cost and it’s more than ads can cover. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable. Become an Aleteia Patron today for as little as $3 a month. May we count on you?