Waking Up: New State of Consciousness Proposed

Consciousness is not black and white. http://www.costaricantimes.com/

Consciousness is not black and white. http://www.costaricantimes.com/

Professor Jaideep Pandit, Consultant Anaesthetist & Fellow of St John’s College, Oxford, UK, has proposed the existence of a new state of consciousness called ‘dysanaesthesia.‘ Dysanaesthesia is a state of being that numerous people have experienced while under the effects of anesthesia.  It is neither the conscious nor unconscious state, it is a new state of consciousness.

Pandit believes that dysanaesthesia is a wrench in the spokes when attempting to monitor the conscious state of a person under anesthesia. While it’s easy to tell the difference between a conscious and unconscious state of being, it is extremely difficult to recognize when someone is in between the two states.  It is also near impossible to know if a person’s state is closer to a conscious or unconscious state when dealing with states in between the two. According to Pandit, we know very little about the mechanics of shifting into different states of consciousness:

Even in 2013, we are still struggling to define what consciousness actually is. We can obviously see when someone is awake and responding, and when someone is asleep or unconscious, but our understanding of what changes us from one state to the other is still evolving.

The greatest mystery is the self.  http://teacherzen.com/

The greatest mystery is the self. http://teacherzen.com/

Related Article: Scientists Agree; Animals are just as Conscious as Us

As the old saying goes, “the more we learn, the less we know.”  Consciousness is a persistent enigma. It is ubiquitous throughout history as a central theme in philosophical ideology. Consider, what does it mean to be conscious? Is there a clear line between a conscious and unconscious state? Or between a confused and lucid state? Any answer could be argued to irrelevancy. Consciousness is at the center of this debate.

Despite its medical prevalence, no one fully knows how anesthesia actually works. Scientist are still unable to identify the specific electroencephalography (EEG) patterns that show when a person has slipped into an unconscious state, or back into a conscious one. While most people think of anesthesia as the drug that makes you fall into a deep sleep, this idea is a total misconception. Emery Brown, professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School told NPR that,

Sleep is not the state you’re going in, nor would it be the state in which someone could perform an operation on you. What we need to do in order to be able to operate on you — to perform a procedure which is, indeed, very invasive — is to put you in a state which is effectively a coma which we can readily reverse.

Be you angels? http://www.sickchirpse.com/

Where am I? Be you angels? http://www.sickchirpse.com/

Related Article: Doctors Communicate with Vegetable Through Brain Scans

Prof. Pandit examined data from studies all over the world and found that if a patient is asked following surgery if they recall anything, 1 in 500 will say they did. 1 in 15,000 patients report without being asked that they were aware during the surgery.  This means that each year up to 40,000 people will wake up during surgery. Doctors have called this phenomenon anesthesia awareness, and it can be a nightmarish experience and state of consciousness for some.

Interestingly though, only a third of the patients who reported ‘waking up’ experienced pain or panic during the awareness.  For the most part, if someone wakes up during surgery it isn’t unpleasant or of particular importance during the episode.  This neutral state is what Pandit proposes is the foundation of the new consciousness.  He explains that,

What we are possibly seeing is a third state of consciousness—dysanaesthesia—in which the patient is certainly aware of events, but not concerned by this knowledge (especially as they are not in pain).

It took 8 years of school to get that hammer! englishmanjon.blogspot.com

It took 8 years of university to get that hammer! englishmanjon.blogspot.com

Related Article: The Extraordinary Benefits of Psilocybin in Magic Mushrooms

Prof. Pandit performed his own experiment on the new state of consciousness.  In his experiment Pandit anesthetized patients and used a neuromuscular blocking agent to paralyze the entire body except for the forearm. The patients did not voluntary move their fingers, but a third of them responded to questions through finger movement.  These are very surprising results because,

To date no patients in these experiments have moved their fingers voluntarily to indicate wakefulness, yet 1 in 3 (a third) of them can move their fingers if asked to by medical teams. This again suggests that in a majority of those patients who experience awareness, it may not be unpleasant or distressing to them, since they are not moving their fingers to make medical teams aware of this.

The patients are aware, but totally unscathed, and in fact not even interested in the objective reality we are all experiencing. They are not conscious, yet not totally unconscious. This is a realm of consciousness that we don’t have even a rudimentary map to begin to understand. Further studies could lead to a better understanding of consciousness itself, as well as quelling fears people have of anesthesia.

Related Article: Mystery of Death Solved: DMT is the Key

This state sounds very much like deep meditative states people have described. Maybe that’s because meditation is the practice of experiencing states of consciousness without judgement. Regardless, if while in this state people are “aware of events, but not concerned,” then it sounds like a worthwhile state to explore. Onward to our new state of consciousness.

 

Sources:

http://www.aagbi.org/sites/default/files/FINAL_AAGBI_Pandit_AC_Dublin_2013.pdf

http://www.bu.edu/today/2013/unexpected-awakenings/

http://www.npr.org/2011/04/25/135516582/you-wont-feel-a-thing-your-brain-on-anesthesia

Did You Know That Certain Plants Do Division?

Plants Do Division

Plants Do Division http://news.jic.ac.uk/

 

I thought that only humans can do arithmetic, but plants do division as well. I guess a brain with a neocortex is not required. New research shows that arabidopsis plants perform an arithmetic feat to know how to distribute stored energy during the night when there is no light, preventing starvation.

Plants get their energy from light through a process called photosynthesis. This involves breaking down carbon dioxide compounds into sugars. And we all know what awesome byproduct that gives us; oxygen! So during the day they store sugars, and during the night plants do division in order to distribute the sugars at a steady rate. This insight comes from new research done by the scientists at the John Innes Centre and found through the open access journal eLife.

It is vital that plants do division in order to be able to grow properly. Learning more about this process has some implications, such as possible plant hacking in order to achieve higher crop yields. This is already being done with GMOs.

Plants do division during night time. There are certain “mechanisms” in the leaves that measure how much of the starch is stored and how much time will pass until the sun rises. Plants also have a sort of an internal “biological clock” which allows them to guess when dawn will come. There are three clock genes that work together like a seesaw. When dawn comes, these genes instruct the plant to make two proteins, CCA1 and LHY. These proteins tell the plant that it is daytime. During the day these are destroyed, which allows for the third protein, TOC1, to be made. This tells the plant that it is night time. That last protein also tells the plant that it’s time to make the first two, so the whole process cycles again.

According to Professor Alison Smith,

the calculations are so precise so that plants prevent starvation but also make most efficient use of their food.

Using up the starch too fast will induce starvation, while using it up too slow will waste the unused starch. Scientists predict that there are two molecules that encode the information about how much starch is stored at a given time and time until dawn breaks. Let’s call these molecules S and T for the time being. The rate at which starch is consumed is set by the ratio of S molecules to T molecules. Because a ratio is actually a fancy way to say division, scientists are confident in the claim that plants are division experts.

Sources:

http://elife.elifesciences.org/content/2/e00669

http://news.jic.ac.uk/2013/06/plants-do-sums-to-get-through-the-night/

http://arabidopsis.info/InfoPages?template=arabidopsis;web_section=arabidopsis

http://www.plantsci.cam.ac.uk/research/webb/plantTime/clock.html

A Group of Prominent Scientists Agree; Animals are just as Conscious as Us

The immense intelligence and self awareness of species like elephants, dolphins,  pigs, and octopi have long been documented.  For the first time in history a team of international scientists have signed a document citing evidence for the claim that many animals exhibit the same degree of consciousness and awareness as humans. They act on instinct just as much as we do.

This even includes animals that are extremely unlike humans, such as birds and many forms of sea life.

“The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors.”

“The scientific evidence is increasingly indicating that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness.”

Can we please get rid of zoos already.  I’m tired of hearing the argument “the zoo keepers really take care of those animals.”  If I am forced into a cage, I don’t care how well I am taken care of, I want out, even if it means death.

Some other reading and research on consciousness in animals can be found here: click click