Ian Weinberg in Publishers & Bloggers, Healthcare, English Developer and facilitator of neuromodulation program. Practicing neurosurgeon. • Netcare Linksfield Hospital Sep 24, 2016 · 1 min read · 2.5K

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

Tricia Mitchell May 22, 2017 · #24

#23 indeed!

Ian Weinberg May 22, 2017 · #23

#22 All shall be revealed to the seeing eye!

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Tricia Mitchell May 22, 2017 · #22

This reminds me of neurosurgeon Eben Alexander and his NDE http://www.ebenalexander.com/my-experience-in-coma/ The scientific data you've shared certainly helps pose questions where there "shouldn't" be any. Although it's not possible to scientifically validate, nor am I sure whether I believe it or not (yet), I recall reading something about the soul leaving the physical body when we sleep. When I've commented about rarely dreaming, a couple of my spiritually like-minded friends have commented (independently) that it's because I'm helping others in my sleep. There's no way of testing it, but what if we had the freedom to connect while our doubt & logic were out of the way?

I have been poked in the arm once, pretty hard, while on my own, during a client call. When I described what caused me to yelp out loud (it was a Skype call, so there was no other way to explain it other than to tell the truth), the client immediately shared a childhood event that matched the sensation. It was the key to the block they were experiencing (a phobia tied to the school vaccination program as a child). So, yes, I personally believe consciousness exists beyond the physical plane; I guess scientists will have to wait until they cross over to see for themselves if it's true for them! It's good to know these debates are taking place. Thanks for sharing

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Cyndi wilkins May 1, 2017 · #21

AWE truly is in the eye of the beholder;-) Another gem worth a second look by @Ian Weinberg....

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Cyndi wilkins May 1, 2017 · #20

"Clearly there is more to consciousness than merely a mechanistic, organ-based function." Indeed...However, I do understand the mind of the skeptic...Altered states of consciousness is unique to the experiencer...so reading about it in a book or studying a case such as Pamela's certainly does not fully grasp the gravity (or lack thereof;-) of such extraordinary phenomena for the observer...That said, eventually we will all have our 'experience'....I just prefer to do it while still inhabiting a physical body...Perhaps someday science will figure out a way to demonstrate and document non-physical phenomena in a way that is acceptable to all evolving human beings;-)

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Fancy J London Dec 3, 2016 · #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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