Voice of Consciousness (03:31)
You are the author of a unique film filmed in 3D and told by your inner voice. Interwoven with memories and feelings, this incommunicable story is a scientific object. Antonio Damasio says consciousness is a mixture of internal emotion and external sensation.
Human System Organization (01:32)
We are made of matter, arranged in highly complex ways. Scientists propose that consciousness emerges from millions of connections existing between our environment, body, and brain. Consciousness has evolved to import increasingly sophisticated representations of the outside world to our brains.
Reconstructing Outside Reality (02:50)
Optical illusions demonstrate how the brain unconsciously calculates and interprets visual information, including omitting "unnecessary" data.
Subliminal Image Experiment (03:48)
Our brain gives us the illusion that we perceive outside reality, rather than an interpretation of it. Researchers show test subjects numbers for milliseconds to understand how visual data is processed. Consciously processed data triggers a coordinated response among specialized brain systems.
First Moment of Consciousness (02:41)
Researchers test whether consciousness mechanisms are present in infant brains by recording cerebral activity while showing them facial images. Results demonstrate they possess the same mechanisms as adults, but take longer to interpret visual data. From 5 months, babies are conscious of perception.
Mirror Experiment (03:04)
A 1970s study shows that around 2 years old, children are capable of touching a mark on their face in relation to their self-reflection. As we develop, we add layers of identity influenced by thoughts, beliefs, and value systems around a fundamental need to be loved.
Storytelling Species (03:07)
Consciousness is like a perpetual reflecting self-image; we tell ourselves a story to live our own "reality.” A German expressionist film uses abstract symbols to inspire viewers to construct a narrative. Sense bridges the gap between reality and representation.
Altered Consciousness (03:51)
Sometimes our inner storytelling fades. Car accident victim Nathan sustained brain damage and was in a coma for 4 years, during which he lost references to reality. Some days he is alert and can communicate; others he is mentally absent.
Consciousness in Coma Patients (03:17)
Patients in vegetative states have fluctuating levels of awareness. Laureys' team plays sounds for a patient and monitors his brain activity response. He registers surprise at an outlying tone—demonstrating that he is conscious, though unresponsive.
Consciousness "Echo" Study (03:33)
Marcello Massimini is interested in how brain activity changes during sleep. He administers an electromagnetic pulse to his brain and tracks how his neurons respond while awake and asleep.
Measuring Consciousness (02:52)
Massimini's brain response to an electromagnetic pulse is complex while he is awake and simple during sleep. His research provides a quantitative understanding of brain alertness levels. Dreaming is a state of consciousness during which subconscious memories simulate characters and landscapes.
Lucid Dreams Research (04:06)
Steven LaBerge studies consciousness by recording and deciphering his dreams. He explains that consciousness is a particular type of dream, in which the brain simulates reality using preexisting data. Dreaming is perception, free of constraint and expressing creativity.
Consciousness and Physical Body (02:26)
Descartes believed the soul and physical matter are made of different things. Henrik Ehrsson discusses the miracle of creating a human individual from brain tissue, with memories, experiences, and morals.
Brain, Body and Self Laboratory (02:52)
Ehrsson's experiments use full body illusions to study the brain. Test subjects view screens from a doll's perspective. Simultaneous touch makes the brain combine visual and tactile sensations, showing the mind creates reality and the body and consciousness are closely linked.
Free Will Study (03:35)
Our thoughts and emotions come from the brain, not an abstract mind. John-Dylan Haynes tests whether we can predict how someone will decide— before they begin the decision process. Brain activity begins 7 seconds before subjects push one of two buttons.
Constructing Free Will (04:01)
Haynes says the mind does not operate independently of the body; genes, education, and values influence decisions at a subconscious level. Up to 98% of brain activity is unconscious, but we can consciously transform the brain's functional dynamic through psychotherapy and meditation.
Meditation Study (02:45)
Researchers measure the cerebral complexity of Buddhist monk and molecular biologist Matthieu Ricard in different states of consciousness. Using thought alone, he varied complexity of brain activity from open presence, or enhanced awareness, to induced cognitive opacity, or torpor.
Consciousness Story (03:04)
Our brain creates categories and limits to understand the world. Science is rediscovering that certain mental practices can modify brain structure and function, but the mechanism remains elusive. Ricard says there is no central control station, but rather a continuum of experiences and states of consciousness.
Credits: The Key To Consciousness, A Journey Into The Stuff Of Thoughts—Brain Power (00:33)
Credits: The Key To Consciousness, A Journey Into The Stuff Of Thoughts—Brain Power
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