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Where does consciousness originate? All over our brain

New Scientist is running a fascinating article on new brain research happening at INSERM that appears to show that consciousness arises from activity distributed across the brain — rather than any single locus or “seat.”

Gaillard’s team flashed words in front of volunteers for just 29 milliseconds. The words were either threatening (kill, anger) or emotionally neutral (cousin, see).

The words were preceded and followed by visual “masks”, which block the words from being consciously processed, or the masks following the words weren’t used, meaning the words could be consciously processed. The volunteers had to press a button to indicate the nature of the word, allowing the researchers to confirm whether the volunteer was conscious of it or not.

Read the full article.

And watch Dan Dennett’s fun, intriguing 2003 TEDTalk on consciousness.