Three leading researchers and thinkers discuss the emerging scientific understanding of this mysterious human faculty. Presented by Alok Jha and produced by Jason Phipps, theguardian.com, Monday 14 July 2014 14.23 BST
This week we revisit a classic edition of the podcast recorded in February 2012. Former Science Weekly presenter Alok Jha interviewed three specialists investigating the “hard problem”, human consciousness: Dr Anil Seth, co-director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at Sussex University; Professor Chris Frith, professor emeritus at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London; and Professor Barry Smith, director of the Institute of Philosophy at the School of Advanced Study, University of London.
Extracts: Behaviourism has lost popularity since the 60’s. There has been great advance in technology, specially with brain imaging in order to study the brain. These two points are amongst the most relevant in making the study of consciousness interesting for science nowadays.
10′: We can have a subjective experience while we dream, which proves that we do not need to interact with the outside world in order to experience consciousness.
11’50”: Consciousness seems to have been located to come from the interaction between the thalamus and the cortex.
17’41”: when patients in coma or other impairing degenerative brain conditions answer “yes” or “no” questions by imagining scenes, it is like being in a hypnotic state, not like the full flourishing of consciousness.
19′: People can experience pain but not recognise it as theirs (i.e. Alien hand syndrome).
20′: In patients with squizophrenia, thoughts can be experienced as “not theirs”.
27’30”: Memories change every time we remember something.
28′: Purpose of consciousness 1: That we can share things with other people.
29′: Purpose of consciousness 2: An informative experience for the organism, ruling out everything else which is not happening at a given moment.
30′: Purpose of consciousness 3: A prime mover, encouraging us to do things.