Neurosurgery and consciousness: historical sketch and future possibilities

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Neurosurgery has played an important role in the development of neuroscience and the science of consciousness. In this paper, the authors reflect on some of the historical contributions of neurosurgeons to the science of consciousness and discuss the ways in which clinical neurosurgery can contribute to the science of consciousness in the 21st century. An approach to the “hard problem” is proposed based on the principles of psychophysics, and the opportunities offered by intracranial recording and stimulation in patients capable of reporting changes in subjective experience are discussed. Such an approach will allow the systematic study and description of the bridging relationships between neurobiology and conscious experience.

Abbreviations used in this paper:ILN = thalamic intralaminar nuclei; NCC = neural correlate of consciousness.

Article Information

Address correspondence to: Harutomo Hasegawa, M.R.C.S., Department of Neurosurgery, King's College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London, United Kingdom SE5 9RS. email: h.hasegawa@nhs.net.

Please include this information when citing this paper: published online July 13, 2012; DOI: 10.3171/2012.6.JNS112136.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

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