Consciousness Redux: Reviving Consciousness; January / February 2010; Scientific American Mind; by Christof Koch; 2 Page(s)
Most scholars concerned with the material basis of consciousness are cortical chauvinists. They focus on the two cortical hemispheres that crown the brain. It is here that perception, action, memory, thought and consciousness are said to have their seat.
There is no question that the great specificity of any one conscious perceptual experience—such as the throbbing pain of the socket following extraction of the lower right wisdom tooth, the feeling of familiarity in déjà vu, the aha experience of sudden understanding, the azure blue of a high mountain vista, the despair at reading about one more suicide bombing—is mediated by coalitions of synchronized cortical nerve cells and their associated targets in the satellites of the cortex, thalamus, amygdala, claustrum and basal ganglia. Groups of cortical neurons are the elements that construct the content of each particular rich and vivid experience. Yet content can be provided only if the basic infrastructure to represent and process this content is intact. And it is here that the less glamorous regions of the brain, down in the catacombs, come in.