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WHAT IS CONSCIOUSNESS?
Prenatal Perception, Neonatal
Bain Activity, and Birth
Mythologies
Setting the Stage:
Defining Minimal
Consciousness
sensory awareness of the
body, the self, and the
world
(Lagercrantz &
Ch...
Contrasted to:
Defining Self-Aware
Consciousness
“Inner, qualitative, subjective
states" and processes of
sentience and aw...
Self-Awareness
“Consciousness is awareness of your body and
your environment; self-awareness is recognition of
that consci...
Access Consciousness
Access consciousness is a state that is poised for direct
control of thought and action. A state is a...
Access Consciousness:
The Ebbinghaus Illusion
Phenomenal Consciousness
“P-conscious states are experiential, that is, a state is P-
conscious if it has experiential pro...
What is the source of light for a person here? The sun
And when the sun sets, then what light does he have?
The Great Forr...
The ultimate answer:
The Self is Always Here,
Never There
- How could outer sources of light reveal anything to us, if
the...
David Chalmers:
The “Easy” Problems of
Consciousness
- Explaining an organism’s ability to discriminate,
categorize, and r...
David Chalmers:
The Hard Problem
- “The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of
experience….there is someth...
States of Consciousness
- Waking
- Sleep
- Coma
- General Anesthesia
Memory + Consciousness:
Infant Amnesia + Birth
Memories
- The neonatal is “unreflective, present
oriented” (Lagercrantz & ...
“Mount Everest in Utero”
- Sir Joseph Barcroft (1872-1947)
- The intrauterine environment is
extremely hypoxic
- The fetus...
Somatosensory
Experience
- Smell: At 20 wks gestation, the epithelial plugs blocking
the nostrils disappear, and preferenc...
On Being Born
- Arousal from a resting, sleeping state in utero
- At birth, the infant is taken from an unconscious fetal ...
GABA – Excitatory to
Inhibitory
- In adult brain, GABA is the main inhibitory transmitter that hyper
polarizes target neur...
Active Areas of Neonate
Brain
- The fusiform area for face
recognition (Johnson, 2005)
- The left hemispheric temporal
lob...
The Fusiform Area
Jiang et al., 2006
The Fusiform Area: How we
know it’s for facial processing
Neonatal EEG
Developmental EEG
Landmarks
- temporal theta burst
- beta delta complex
- temporal alpha bursts
- trace alternant
- fronta...
preterm EEG
initially comprises
intermittent bursts of
activity, with a
gradual increase in
the amount of
ongoing
(continu...
Facial Recognition
2-month old infants
get distressed when
they see a recording
of a face with
various
expressions, versus...
Facial Expression Imitation
Hypothesized as a
subcortical facial
recognition system,
babies can imitate
facial expressions...
Embryonic Visual System
Neuronal development is mostly in areas
related to the sensory modalities stimulated
in the intrau...
Do Babies Dream in the Womb?
“After about seven months
growing in the womb, a human
fetus spends most of its time
asleep. ...
Role of REM Sleep in Fetal
Development
Roffwarg, Muzio, and Dement (1966) theorize that REM sleep
substitutes wakefulness ...
Phenomenology of Infancy
BirthofEwa_PrenatalConsciousnessPresentaiton
BirthofEwa_PrenatalConsciousnessPresentaiton
BirthofEwa_PrenatalConsciousnessPresentaiton
BirthofEwa_PrenatalConsciousnessPresentaiton
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BirthofEwa_PrenatalConsciousnessPresentaiton

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BirthofEwa_PrenatalConsciousnessPresentaiton

  1. 1. WHAT IS CONSCIOUSNESS? Prenatal Perception, Neonatal Bain Activity, and Birth Mythologies
  2. 2. Setting the Stage: Defining Minimal Consciousness sensory awareness of the body, the self, and the world (Lagercrantz & Changeux,2009)
  3. 3. Contrasted to: Defining Self-Aware Consciousness “Inner, qualitative, subjective states" and processes of sentience and awareness, involving autobiography and mental time and involving the capacity to introspect (Searle, 2000)
  4. 4. Self-Awareness “Consciousness is awareness of your body and your environment; self-awareness is recognition of that consciousness—not only understanding that you exist but further comprehending that you are aware of your existence. Another way of considering it: to be conscious is to think; to be self- aware is to realize that you are a thinking being and to think about your thoughts.” – Scientific American Self-awareness involves the conscious acknowledgement of one's presence as a separate entity in space (Morin, 2004)
  5. 5. Access Consciousness Access consciousness is a state that is poised for direct control of thought and action. A state is available for access consciousness if it can be used in reasoning and for direct control of action and speech. (Conscious versus unconscious information processing) ** Emphasis on verbal report
  6. 6. Access Consciousness: The Ebbinghaus Illusion
  7. 7. Phenomenal Consciousness “P-conscious states are experiential, that is, a state is P- conscious if it has experiential properties. The totality of the experiential properties of a state are “what it is like” to have it. Moving from synonyms to examples, we have P- conscious states when we see, hear, smell, taste and have pains.” (Block 1995: 230)
  8. 8. What is the source of light for a person here? The sun And when the sun sets, then what light does he have? The Great Forrest Teachings (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, 7th Century B.C.E.) The moon And when the sun and the moon set, then what light does he have? Fire. And when the fire goes out, then what light does he have? Speech. Even when one cannot see one’s own hand, when speech is uttered, one goes towards it. And when speech has fallen silent, and in the absence of sun, moon, fire, what source of light does a person have? The self. (atman). It is by the light of the self that he sits, goes about, does his work, and returns.
  9. 9. The ultimate answer: The Self is Always Here, Never There - How could outer sources of light reveal anything to us, if they weren’t themselves lit up by the self? - Consciousness is like a light; it illuminates or reveals things so they can be known - A person has two dwellings – this world and the world beyond. Between them lies the borderland of dreams where the two worlds meet.
  10. 10. David Chalmers: The “Easy” Problems of Consciousness - Explaining an organism’s ability to discriminate, categorize, and react to environmental stimuli - Explaining how a cognitive system integrates information - Explaining how and why mental states are reportable - Explaining how a cognitive system can access its own internal states - Explaining how attention gets focused - Explaining the deliberate control of behavior - Explaining the difference between wakefulness and sleep
  11. 11. David Chalmers: The Hard Problem - “The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience….there is something it is like to be a conscious organism. This subjective aspect is experience. When we see, for example, we experience visual sensations: the felt quality of redness, the experience of dark and light, the quality of depth in a visual field. Other experiences go along with perception in different modalities: the sound of a clarinet, the smell of meatballs. Then there are bodily sensations, from pains to orgasms; mental images that are conjured up internally; the felt quality of emotion, and the experience of a stream of conscious thought. What unites all of these states is that there is something it is like to be in them. All of them are states of experience.” – David Chalmers, 1995
  12. 12. States of Consciousness - Waking - Sleep - Coma - General Anesthesia
  13. 13. Memory + Consciousness: Infant Amnesia + Birth Memories - The neonatal is “unreflective, present oriented” (Lagercrantz & Changeux, 2009) - Described as “basic” or “minimal” consciousness
  14. 14. “Mount Everest in Utero” - Sir Joseph Barcroft (1872-1947) - The intrauterine environment is extremely hypoxic - The fetus depends on placental transfer of oxygen through the mother’s circulatory system. The fetus competes with the mother's organs for a share of the systemic oxygen delivery, and increased demand from the mother's tissues could be detrimental to fetal circulation.
  15. 15. Somatosensory Experience - Smell: At 20 wks gestation, the epithelial plugs blocking the nostrils disappear, and preference for mother scent - Nociception (pain) at 20 wks - Vision: Visual acuity is 1/40, but preferential looking to patterned stimuli vs. grey fields, facial recognition and imitation – preference for faces who make eye contact - Hearing: Newborn infants remember sounds, melodies, - and rhythmic poems they have been exposed to during fetal life - Touch: Self-other touch discrimination in newborn
  16. 16. On Being Born - Arousal from a resting, sleeping state in utero - At birth, the infant is taken from an unconscious fetal state to an awake state for about two hours, and then remains mostly asleep for two days - Intense flow of novel sensory stimuli after birth - Endogenous analgesia is removed at birth, thus taking away the suppressors on neural activity - Catecholamine surge triggered by vaginal delivery may also contribute to increased arousal at birth
  17. 17. GABA – Excitatory to Inhibitory - In adult brain, GABA is the main inhibitory transmitter that hyper polarizes target neurons. In early development, GABAergic transmission is not inhibitory but facilitates endogenous events - The high chloride concentration in immature neurons leads to a depolarizing postsynaptic response. During development, the expression patterns of chloride-regulating molecules undergo profound changes such that GABA becomes more hyperpolarizing. - The inhibitory action of GABA is paralleled with emergence of continuous oscillations in various frequency bands (33, 34) - A transient switch in GABA signaling from fetal excitatory to inhibitory is elicited by maternal oxytocin release upon delivery (Tyzio, 2006)
  18. 18. Active Areas of Neonate Brain - The fusiform area for face recognition (Johnson, 2005) - The left hemispheric temporal lobe for processing speech stimuli (Dehaene-Lambertz, Hertz-Pannier, & Dubois, 2006) - Early thalamocortical pathways
  19. 19. The Fusiform Area Jiang et al., 2006
  20. 20. The Fusiform Area: How we know it’s for facial processing
  21. 21. Neonatal EEG
  22. 22. Developmental EEG Landmarks - temporal theta burst - beta delta complex - temporal alpha bursts - trace alternant - frontal sharp transients - occipital dominant alpha rhythm - vertex transients - sleep spindles
  23. 23. preterm EEG initially comprises intermittent bursts of activity, with a gradual increase in the amount of ongoing (continuous, oscillatory) activity. Neonate EEG
  24. 24. Facial Recognition 2-month old infants get distressed when they see a recording of a face with various expressions, versus a live face, indicating an awareness of social interaction
  25. 25. Facial Expression Imitation Hypothesized as a subcortical facial recognition system, babies can imitate facial expressions, a very sophisticated form of social interaction.
  26. 26. Embryonic Visual System Neuronal development is mostly in areas related to the sensory modalities stimulated in the intrauterine environment (tactile, proprioceptive, auditory, and gustatory pathways) – EXCEPT for the visual system, which has substantial myelnation prior to birth without exogenous stimulation.
  27. 27. Do Babies Dream in the Womb? “After about seven months growing in the womb, a human fetus spends most of its time asleep. Its brain cycles back and forth between the frenzied activity of rapid eye movement sleep and the quiet resting state of nonREM sleep.” – American Institute of Physics (2009)
  28. 28. Role of REM Sleep in Fetal Development Roffwarg, Muzio, and Dement (1966) theorize that REM sleep substitutes wakefulness during period (early life) when wakefulness is limited. This provides an “inner stimulation” which could anticipate the sensorimotor experience of the newborn with the outside world and regulate thalamocortical development (Biagioni et al., 2005)
  29. 29. Phenomenology of Infancy

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