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Researchers from the Hebrew University have found an area of ​​the brain that is responsible for states of alertness

The discovery paves the way for understanding the process of loss of consciousness and for future treatment of the unconscious

Prof. Marshall Devor
Prof. Marshall Devor

Scientists from the Hebrew University have discovered an area of ​​the brain that controls unconsciousness, blurred senses and similar conditions. This discovery paves the way for understanding the neural circuits in the brain responsible for states of alertness and for the future development of treatment for states of loss of consciousness and coma.

In an article recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience, Prof. Marshall Davor, research student Ruth Abulafia and Dr. Vladimir Zelkind from the Silverman Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University describe the discovery of an area of ​​the brain that controls states of consciousness.

Loss of consciousness and lack of reaction to pain are among the most prominent characteristics of surgical anesthesia and of "anaesthesia-like" conditions such as concussion, reversible coma and fainting. These conditions are characterized by movement suppression, muscle relaxation, metabolic suppression of brain activity and transition to a state of disconnection from the environment.

The accepted assumption in the scientific literature is that situations of surgical anesthesia, fainting, loss of pain sensation, body relaxation and loss of consciousness are caused by suppression of all brain activity at once due to general metabolic suppression. However, the research led by Prof. Davor found another explanation - contrary to the assumption that the brain "turns off" at the same time, it turns out that loss of consciousness depends on a small group of nerve cells at the base of the brain. These cells control the activity of the entire cerebral cortex and spinal cord. It was found that loss of pain sensation, loss of stability and loss of consciousness depend on specific circuits that connect to the same nerve cells.

The researchers came to this conclusion after injecting a tiny amount of an anesthetic drug "into the center of consciousness" in laboratory animals and observing a strong response of suppressing the electrical activity of the cerebral cortex, compared to injections to other places in the brain that did not cause loss of consciousness.

"If it is possible to translate the results to a person, the consequences are far-reaching," says Prof. Devor, "First, this knowledge may contribute to the ability of medicine to treat the loss of consciousness and disorders of alertness and sleep such as insomnia, excessive sleep and even coma, by for example providing electrical stimulation directly to the nerve cells that are responsible for the state of alertness. Second, the discovery of a specific cluster of nerve cells that controls the brain's state of consciousness may lead to the beginning of the understanding of the "wiring" diagram that allows the biological machine, the brain, to be conscious."

6 תגובות

  1. What is metabolic precision of the brain? How do you check it?
    I would appreciate it if someone could explain
    with gratitude

  2. I want my sleepy, intelligent, creative, dreaming mind to be explored, which doesn't really wake up most of the time... to be explored and wake him/me up

  3. It turns out that I predicted this discovery when I wrote inThe blood is the soul "This feeling, together with the fact that it is possible to deliberately decide to concentrate (and, as mentioned, even improve function through biological feedback) raise the possibility that there is a special nervous system in the brain designed to link the different areas and create these feelings and abilities."

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