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Attention: Consciousness!
October 12, 2006 16:57

Russian scientists are working on combining human brain with computer.

Consciousness is considered to be one of nature’s great mysteries. Processes, taking place in consciousness, and its development from “tabula rasa” (“clean slate” of a newborn) to intellectual heights are still subject to thorough studies of world’s scientific community. Researchers from the Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology comment on current research and new discoveries in the field of studying human consciousness.

Human consciousness origins from brain processes, but its content comes from social experience – communication and education. The fundamental mechanism of human consciousness is based on matching new information, which comes from surrounding environment, with acquired experience, stored inside human memory. Physiological experiments have shown that personal experience comes from cooperation of brain processes and memory reservoirs due to “sensation cycle” – a cyclical process of excitement returning to sites of primary projections after being processed in other brain parts.

It takes brain 150 milliseconds to compare sensory signal with information, extracted from the memory – after that we can see light, hear sounds or feel the touch. Human thought appears due to integration of activated brain structures collecting information from outside and extracting it from the memory. A curious mechanism is responsible for said process – something similar to traffic “green wave” or neuroresonance. Russian scientists have found out that neural processes during sensation appearance and thinking process are quire similar, though sensation origins from two information streams and thinking – from several streams. Another distinction is that synthesis centres of thinking are located in the association cortex, not in the projection cortex.

It is very important for medicine, pedagogy and sociology to understand mechanisms of conscience. Human selective attention is an example – a human being pays attention to one information type and ignores others while observing the environment. The brain actually accumulates all types of information, but there’s a special mechanism, which blocks unnecessary information transfer to the hippocampus – brain structure responsible for remembering event chains. Needless information isn’t stored in memory but human consciousness analyses it and if it appears to be useful immediately pays attention to it.

While thinking brain electric potentials undergo regular rhythm alterations, depending on the type of the problem being solved. These distinctions cannot be detected with an unaided eye, thus scientists have developed a self-learning computer programme, an artificial neuro-network, which is able to remember and analyse several thousands of combinations of various characteristics. Thus, several seconds of biopotential record are enough for defining the type of a problem a man is thinking on. This research is a stage of creating an interface between human brain and a computer (BCI). Russian think-tank is working on applying human brain signals to computer – to write a word without touching the keyboard, for example. Another scientific achievement is finding anomalies in correlations between right and left brain hemispheres of schizophrenic patients, which lead to consciousness decomposition and cognitive ability dysfunctions.

Now scientists are planning further studies of mysterious object called human consciousness.


Anna Kizilova


Tags: Russian scientists Russian science health   

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