Space & Innovation

This Giant Neuron Could Explain Where Consciousness Comes From

After uncovering three giant neurons, scientists could be one step closer to pinpointing where consciousness lives in the brain.

Consciousness is defined as the state of being awake and aware of one's surroundings, it's the mind's understanding that it exists. And it is one of the most elusive phenomena in all of human understanding. To try and shed light on this mystery, scientists are searching for a biological explanation they call the neural correlates of consciousness, which means the parts of your brain that supposedly generate self-awareness.

And they might have found a key component! Researchers at the Allen Institute for Brain Science uncovered three giant neurons, one of which is wrapped around the entire brain like a "crown of thorns!"

They've traced these special neurons to what's believed to be one of the most densely connected parts of the brain called the claustrum. Scientists have suspected that the claustrum could be coordinating inputs and outputs across the brain to create conscious experiences, so seeing these three giant neurons emanate from the claustrum was a big deal.

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Read More:

Nature: A giant neuron found wrapped around entire mouse brain

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Consciousness

National Center for Biotechnology Information: What is the function of the claustrum?