New York University The Structure and Function of The Brain Discussion and Responses


Discussion Topic-  The Structure and Function of the Brain  

agree with the following statement that understanding the consciousness 
also means having the knowledge and understanding of the brain. Based on
 this week’s power point, there are several brain functions that overlap
 with the consciousness. This includes the brain’s allowing homeostasis 
which is keeping the body in a stable condition and signaling the body 
if anything is not right. The brain also allows for process of 
attention, for example it allows us to process where we are at the 
moment. As we learned in the previous power point, consciousness 
involves the state of being aware of our surrounding, being able to know
 the awareness of ourselves individually. Another, overlap is the 
process of being awake and sleeping, our body knows how to do this 
through the circadian rhythm which regulates the sleep-wake cycle. As 
discussed in the material, the midbrain and thalamus play a huge role 
in  the consciousness. In fact, the neurons in the midbrain or reticular
 activating system allows for the functions of various areas of the 
brain, such as the transition of the sleep-awake cycle  Being able to 
know when you’re awake and when you’re asleep is part of consciousness 
since you have a understanding of what it means to be awake and alert 
but also the feeling of being sleepy. The brain also has the function to
 process our emotions and feelings, and there are several parts of the 
brain that help with that. One main part is the amygdala, as we learned 
it’s functions is regulating emotions and it’s located in the limbic 
system which works with different parts of the brain. Consciousness also
 deals with our emotions and feelings of a certain experience such as 
trying beer for the first time. Lastly, the brains overlaps with 
consciousness when it comes to learning process. Our learning process 
are things such as our behavior, values skills, knowledge and so much 
more. This is important in the consciousness since it defines who you 
are; why is that you know the information you do? For example, your 
parents may have been chiefs and it may have been where your passion for
 cooking came from. Or you may remember a medical terminology because it
 reminds you of something while another person may just know a term 
because it was a common household word; due to their mother being a 
 agree with the statement that understanding consciousness means 
understanding the structure and functions of the brain. From previous 
lessons, it was learned that consciousness was described as a more 
subjective experience of the individual. Different aspects of 
consciousness exists, one of which is that consciousness is ever 
changing, meaning that our thoughts processes change frequently, we can 
only focus on minimal things at a time without proceeding to the next 
thought; William James referred to this as the flowing quality of 
consciousness. Initially, scientists lacked study in consciousness since
 they did not have access to the imaging machines that they do now, but 
in the 1990’s the interest of prominent scientists shift since they got 
access to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI and 
electroencephalography (EEG) machines. One of the first neuroscientist, 
Adrian Owen, did research on a young female who had sustained brain 
damage due to a car accident that left her non-responsive both verbal 
and somewhat physically. What many of us describe s the first sign of 
consciousness, open eyes or wakefulness’ was the only form of 
consciousness that she could display. Furthermore, Owen and his team of 
researchers used the fMRI machine to study the parts of her brain that 
interpreted consciousness, the researchers used verbal commands for this
 study. For instance, the researchers asked the female to imagine 
herself playing tennis and they noted brain activity in the 
supplementary motor area. The researchers did the same study with 
healthy volunteers and saw that they produced identical signs of 
activity in the brain as the female with brain damage. This shows just 
how much understanding what parts of the brain are responsible or play a
 part in our consciousness is important and helpful to patients who need
 neurological attention. Even though or cerebral cortex is largely 
responsible for our consciousness, all other parts of our brain are 
interconnected and also play a role in our perception and interpretation
 of the things that occur in our environment. This is vital because 
everything in our bodies are interconnected and interpolated especially 
our brain, nervous and peripheral systems which carry information to and
 from parts of our bodies to the brain. Also, we can see how one part of
 the brain malfunctioning or suffering from trauma can affect other 
parts of the brain, especially those important areas that supply us with
 consciousness. Overall, it is important for one who is trying to 
understand consciousness to understand how the brain is structured and 
how it functions since the brain is such a vital part of our bodies that
 serves as the control center for bodily function, consciousness, 
thoughts, feelings, etc. and if you do not know how it works, then how 
would you be able to fix it in the event that something malfunctions or 
is damaged, take for an example, a car accident or any head trauma.“Decoding the Neuroscience of Consciousness”, Emily Sohn, Nature, ISSN 1476-4687. 24 July 2019          

Dr. Lickliter’s Musings on
“Consciousness” [part 5]
Primary Consciousness
• The ability to build a multimodal scene based on
several different sources of concurrent information.
• Does not necessarily contain any self-referential
aspect – it lives in the present (“here” and “now”),
tied to the succession of events in real time.
Primary Consciousness
• …is the process of achieving a neural and
mental pattern which brings together, in
about the same instant, incoming
stimulation from the immediate
environment (extrinsic), incoming
stimulation from the organism (intrinsic),
and the pattern of the relationship
between the two.
• This coupling in real time of inside,
outside, and the relationships between
the two depend on the contributions of a
number of individual brain sites working
in close cooperation. The brain sites or
structures are both cortical and
Seeking the Correlates of Consciousness
Examples of Neural Correlates
Involved in Consciousness
• Brain Stem: involved in maintaining
vegetative function (breathing,
swallowing, etc.), arousal, regulation of
sleep/wake cycles
Neural Correlates of Consciousness
• Superior Colliculus: integrates
multimodal information, connects to
various cortical and sub-cortical
brain regions.
• Involved in orientation to moving
external stimuli.
Neural Correlates of Consciousness
• Thalamus: receives incoming sensory
information and relays to a variety of brain
regions, especially the sensory cortex.
Involved in sensory/temporal succession.
• Cingulate Cortex: involved in emotion,
attention, and autonomic control. Sensory
and motor integration.
Biological functions of brain
structures which support
consciousness appear to
(even though they are widely
distributed in the brain)
Overlapping Brain Functions
1) regulating homeostasis and signaling body
structure and state
2) participating in processes of attention
3) participating in the processes of
wakefulness and sleep
4) participating in the processes of emotion
and feeling
5) participating in the learning process
Midbrain and Thalamus: Key Players in the
Conscious State
Midbrain and Thalamus: Key Players in the
Conscious State
• Neurons in the midbrain reticular activating system project
throughout the cortex.
• When the organism is alert, these neurons fire at a high
• The firing rate slows down when the organism is asleep.
• Activity within the reticular activating system helps
maintain consciousness.
Midbrain and Thalamus: Key Players in the
Conscious State
• The nuclei of the thalamus interact with the reticular
activating system to maintain awareness.
• These nuclei are particularly vulnerable to oxygen

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