New research sheds light on a tricky idea of consciousness: There’s a difference between what the brain takes in and what we’re consciously aware of taking in.
Scientists now think they’ve pinpointed the brain region where that conscious awareness is managed.
The team, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel and the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), in the US, found sustained brain activity in the occipitotemporal area of the visual cortex in the back of the brain.
While this activity dropped to around 10–20 percent of its level about 300 milliseconds after an original visual stimulus, the pattern of activity remained while the stimulus was viewed.
That was in contrast to other brain areas, where information disappeared entirely within half a second (500 milliseconds).
“This stable representation suggests a neural basis for stable perception over time, despite the changing level of activity,” says psychologist Leon Deouell from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
In other words, this neural region is where we not just notice something but also notice that we’re noticing it. [Continue reading…]