Woman lost awareness, though appeared awake, when her brain was stimulated
M. Koubeissi et al/Epilepsy & Behavior 2014
With a zap from a single brain electrode, doctors were able to wipe out a woman’s consciousness. As soon as the electrode turned on, the woman remained awake but became blank and withdrew from awareness. When the electrode turned off, she returned to normal, though she remembered nothing of the experience.
The results provide a tantalizing hint to a question that has plagued thinkers for millennia: How can a hunk of tissue in the skull create subjective feelings and experiences? Today’s brain scientists have attacked this mind-body problem with new theories and experiments designed to tease apart the components of consciousness within the brain (SN: 2/11/12, p. 22). This on-off consciousness switch may lead to a deeper understanding of how the physical brain creates a mental experience.