According to this article The ethical brain

At the end of the week 5 into the 6 (42-43 days) the first electrical brain activity occurs in a pre-born developing human.

And according to the same article

This activity, however, is not coherent activity of the kind that underlies human consciousness, or even the coherent activity seen in a shrimp's nervous system

My question is, which kind of electrical brain activity is associated with consciouness and why?


Gamma band oscillations (GBO) (Wikipedia) (NCBI) are 30-90 Hz electrical waves generated by the brain and are thought to possibly be associated with cognition and consciousness (Panagiotaropoulos, 2012). Some evidence for this putative relationship can be seen with experiments such as pre-pulse inhibition (PPI), which can describe how our sensations are interpreted by the brain. Also, PPI may be aberrant in Schizophrenic patients (who have altered cognition). Changes to PPI are associated with aberrant GBO, which could imply an association between GBO and an individual's interpretation of stimuli, their cognition and by extension consciousness.

But of course, the counter-argument is that the intrinsic activity of the brain isn't changed, merely how the brain processes stimuli. However, all forms of measuring cognition that I've studied involve investigating responses to external stimuli, so as far as I know, this is a universal problem. Furthermore, there's a lot we still don't know about consciousness and no model or measurement is perfect. This article gives quite a nice overview on neural correlates of consciousness.

  • $\begingroup$ Can you cite some sources on "experiments as pre-pulse inhibition"? For me it should be clear that we dont know a lot of things about consciousness since human features such as intelligence and learning can be partially reproduced in computers, but as far as I know anything about consciouness can be reproduced. $\endgroup$ – Pablo Apr 23 '18 at 14:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Pablo I've tried to expand my answer - I've only studied this in relation to changes to cognition in Schizophrenia but I know some people who research changes to attention via EEG and fMRI studies, so I'll ask them and try to add to my answer. $\endgroup$ – Jam Apr 23 '18 at 14:50

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