Consciousness Redux: Being John Malkovich; March / April 2011; Scientific American Mind; by Christof Koch; 2 Page(s)
In philosophy of mind, a “cerebroscope” is a fictitious device, a brain-computer interface in today’s language, which reads out the content of somebody’s brain. An autocerebroscope is a device applied to one’s own brain. You would be able to see your own brain in action, observing the fleeting bioelectric activity of all its nerve cells and thus of your own conscious mind. There is a strange loopiness about this idea. The mind observing its own brain gives rise to the very mind observing this brain. How will this weirdness affect the brain? Neuroscience has answered this question more quickly than many thought possible. But first, a bit of background.
Epileptic seizures—hypersynchronized, self-maintained neural discharges that can sometimes engulf the entire brain—are a common neurological disorder. These recurring and episodic brain spasms are kept in check with drugs that dampen excitation and boost inhibition in the underlying circuits. Medication does not always work, however. When a localized abnormality, such as scar tissue or developmental miswiring, is suspected of triggering the seizure, neurosurgeons may remove the offending tissue.