Ian Weinberg en Publishers & Bloggers, Healthcare, English Developer and facilitator of neuro-coaching program. Neurosurgeon in practice • NeuroSurge - neuromodulation 24/9/2016 · 1 min de lectura · 2,1K

The Inconvenient Truth about Consciousness

The Inconvenient Truth about Consciousness

Human consciousness is universally recognized as a function of the organ referred to as the brain. And while mental and emotional function has been correlated with some components of neuro-anatomy and neuro-physiology, the phenomenon of cognitive consciousness has not been neatly bedded down insofar as the model of the human brain is concerned.

This is illustrated by two seemingly unrelated scientific observations which throw a spanner in the works of conventional neuro-science.

The first case is that of Pam Reynolds who underwent the clipping of a cerebral aneurysm. Due to the nature and position of the aneurysm, the following measures were implemented to facilitate the procedure:

1.Deep general anaesthesia

2.Eyes taped shut

3.Induced hypothermia

4.EEG monitoring to confirm flat line (devoid of cerebral activity) throughout the procedure

5.Continuous auditory evoked potential with ear plugs in place – confirmed zero neuro-electric activity throughout the procedure

6.Cessation of cerebral blood flow just prior to and during the clipping phase

Despite this, the patient was later able to describe the instruments used and repeated the conversation that took place between the surgeons just prior to the clipping, when all the above measures were fully implemented. The timeline of the patient’s subjective experience referenced to actual events indicated clarity of consciousness when the records show zero neurophysiological activity.

The second observation relates to the phenomenon of terminal lucidity. Nahm et al describe a large sample of patients with advanced neuro-degenerative conditions, most of whom had documented involutional tissue loss (atrophy and/or multiple infarct pathology) and chronically compromised cognitive function but who regained near normal cognitive function just prior to death.

Clearly there is more to consciousness than merely a mechanistic, organ-based function. Perhaps these observations are too inconvenient to incorporate into our neat neuro-scientific package. However if we are to remain authentic as scientists then at some stage we will have to engage these inconvenient truths. And the inconvenience gets a whole lot worse…. because if consciousness is not localized to the brain, then does it persist after physical brain death? And so the plot thickens … As neuro-scientists we may well have to take a course in quantum physics to find the missing parts of our model!



Nahm, M., Greyson, B., Kelly, E.W. & Haraldsson, E. (2011). Terminal Lucidity: A Review and a Case Collection. Archives      of Gerontology and Geriatrics. Doi:10.1016/j.archger.2011.06.031

Post-script: The merits of the Reynold's case have been debated in the medical and other scientific literature for several years. The battle lines have been drawn, as expected, between those who are prepared to extend the neuro-scientific model and those for whom the implications of the case are just too inconvenient to integrate. Just to give you a taste of the intensity of the ongoing 'conflict' see -   

                                                              Copyright reserved - Ian Weinberg 2016

FancyJ London Hace 6 d · #19

This make me think that our conciousness might be our soul that so many believe lives on when our bodies do not... hmm? Love this! Thank you for sharing this with me! @Ian Weinberg

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Gerald Hecht Oct 22, 2016 · #18

#17 @Edward Smith it's funny you mention that; I just finished my annual read of Albert Hoffman's "Problem Child"...and I then usually go to Szas, Watts Carl Rogers, and Richard Alpert-turning-into-Ram Dass...

Edward Smith Oct 21, 2016 · #17

#16 @Gerald Hecht, it may be time to delve into the writings of Alan Watts. 😉

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Gerald Hecht Oct 21, 2016 · #16

@Ian Weinberg I like yours better than William James'...

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Gerald Hecht Oct 21, 2016 · #15

@Ian Weinberg William James, upon receiving his MD was quoted as saying:"My First Impressions of the Medical Profession tthat there is some humbug therein...a doctor often does more by the moral effect of his presence on the patient and their family than anything else...he also extracts money from them...there is still such mystery"...

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Irene Hackett Sep 26, 2016 · #14

@Deb Helfrich - excellently expressed!! I agree that our senses are quite 'limited'. Consciousness on the other hand - well that is a vast reality that has hardly been explored in the world of Science and yet very exciting to contemplate.

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Deb Helfrich Sep 26, 2016 · #13

There are a number of scientists like Russell Targ and Rupert Sheldrake who are doing very interesting research proving that some of the things we commonly think of as impossible for our brains to know/do. But just because we haven't yet build the tools to measure everything doesn't mean that we should go around accusing people of quackery and fraud because they are pushing the boundaries of what we 'know for certain' today.

We are limited to our own sensory apparatus. Our field of vision is quite small, our hearing is very limited. It is irrational to think that we are perceiving everything, all the time.

Consciousness is awe-inspiring. The only reason I can come up with for it to seem so taboo as a field of inquiry is a misguided dependence on using "out-there" as a way to verify what is "in-here"

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Peter van Doorn Sep 25, 2016 · #12

Very interesting, indeed.

I often wonder. Is my brain me? Or is my brain a receiver/transmitter to....what.....? And is the level of my ability to receive and transmit, me?

Thus making my brain only a tool? I tend to that idea, since nature only gives us tools, it seems.

Posts like yours make come come back here every time...

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