Breath of Clarity

Damascio TED Talk

Without consciousness, we would have no pain or joy. We would have no love or no desire to create. We would have no happiness or transcendence. Consciousness has always caused major controversy in science, and many argue that it shouldn’t even be studied because the mystery is too immense. We can still begin to approach a solution and start to see the shape. We have imaging technology that allows us to explore inside. When we go underneath the surface and actually look deep into the living brain, we can make real connections.

The simple way to explain consciousness is that it is what we lose when we move into sleep without dreams. It is what we regain when we recover. It is important to investigate all that we lose when consciousness is absent. It is a flow of mental images. There is a sense of self that is also automatically present in our minds. We own our minds and introduce a subjective perspective. In order to understand the mystery, we need to study the way the mind is structurally put together which starts with looking at the construction of ourselves.

We create maps when absorb the environment using the senses. There are a variety of image-making regions of the brain. Those image-making regions, where all the plotting of the neural maps exists, provide signals to the associational cortex where we can make records of it. These are exactly the same that will be used to create memory when we recall information.

The self is the elusive problem. We generate brain maps of the body’s interior and use them as the reference for all other maps. We need to have something that doesn’t deviate day after day. We have an inbuilt system that ensures some sort of continuity. The life regulation devices of the body are located in the brain stem. The connection between the cerebral cortex and brain stem is always very essential. The difference between us and other animals is the presence of the cerebral cortex. We can refer to our own existence. The autobiographical self has prompted extended memory, reasoning, imagination, creativity and language. Consciousness is a mystery, while simultaneously a necessary understanding. If you lose any of these parts, you have no grounding of the self and also no feeling.

The aspect of this presentation that amazed me most was the amount of knowledge that the human race has been able to accumulate regarding such a complicated subject as consciousness. It’s one thing to have a general theory about a topic, but the fact that Damascio was able to scientifically support his ideas was very impressive. Damascio’s ideas were not totally out there, either. In fact, his theories were quite simple and that’s what made them so believable and easy to listen to.