Yale Study Explores the Mystery Surrounding Human Consciousness


| LAST UPDATE 12/12/2022

By Daria Appleby
Yale Research Eyes Consciousness
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Hal Blumenfeld, the Mark Loughridge and Michele Williams Professor of Neurology at Yale, has established a breakthrough discovery in the human brain. Although he has declared this discovery remains a "mystery of modern science," his findings are astonishing. After identifying specific neural mechanisms, they found never-before-seen activity.

In the search to uncover how the human brain is "capable of sorting through an avalanche of external stimuli," the study aimed to understand how human consciousness helps create a sense of awareness. According to Blumenfeld, he says, "turns out there is a set of very beautiful and rich activities involved in the neural mechanism of conscious thought." To fund his theory, a Ph.D. student named Sharif Kronemer at Yale, and now a postdoctoral fellow, used his understanding of maths and "artificial intelligence" to examine a set of human eyes closely. The human eyes are one of our most powerful sources of living. As we witness different situations day by day, different lifestyles, people, and environments, that information is stored to help us in situations that reoccur. But how do we make an understanding of these situations?

Human Mind Eyes Consciousness
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After examining the eyes and the human face, the two Yale alum found "important clues." When the participants were shown clear images, they saw with distinctive eye movement and patterns, which "indicates they were aware of their surroundings." When the participants were shown less clear and "dimmer images of faces," Kronemer and Blumenfeld spotted a change in eye movement patterns. They tracked the changes to understand whether the participants "perceived the face or not without asking them." Using the eye-tracking tool, they could "explore the amorphous dividing line between consciousness and unconsciousness." But, it was also found when the eye picks up its surroundings, the thalamus in the brain is triggered. The thalamus then further triggers a pulse which activates consciousness in the brain, marking the first step of awareness. The pulse can also activate neurons that are associated with visual cues in the frontal cortex, which then enhances "arousal and attention." Moreover, the signals are combined to form a conscious experience that can be stored in our memory. 

As we gain an understanding of these processes, findings can help contribute to insights into the treatment of diseases such as Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, and traumatic brain injury. In addition, Blumenfeld acknowledged these discoveries could also help interpret the human conscious mind and external mysteries.

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