Consciousness, New Thinking About

DJ DJ at
Fri Jun 7 20:09:55 EST 2002

Matt Jones <jonesmat at> wrote in message
news:b86268d4.0206070953.26fed345 at
> "DJ" <DJ at> wrote in message
news:<newscache$r8abxg$j34$1 at>...
> > You have gone to great lengths to point out that seizure
> > disorders can accentuate memory problems - which I agree with - and you
> > to have adopted the conventional view that the reverse isn't even worthy
> > consideration - which I disagree with.
> I simply didn't mention it because I've never seen any  experimental
> or clinical evidence for the idea that specific "thought patterns"
> cause seizures. Do you know of any research supporting this idea?
No Matt, I haven't seen such evidence.  But I haven't seen evidence to the
contrary (that thought patterns and memory problems do *not* contribute to
seizure disorders) either.  If you know of any of that I would be interested
in seeing it.  There are many different types of epilepsy and in many cases
diagnostic equipment (EEG's, MRI's etc) cannot identify any irregularities
at all.  BTW I didn't mean to imply that you were ignorant or whatever, just
that there are possibly two sides to the coin and I'm interested in
discussing the unconventional view.  If someone has hard evidence to prove
it incorrect I'll begrudgingly shrug my shoulders and walk off with my head

> > It's my impression
> > that certain thought patterns can over time, make a person more
> > to seizure disorders than others.  For example, if a child develops a
> > of obsessively thinking and reflecting on past events (and thoughts), in
> > time it could theoretically make the brain's juggling act of retrieving
> > term memories, short term memories and memories of "reflective"
activity -
> > in a meaningful way - more difficult than it needs to be.  Which could
> > turn lead to seizure activity, which could in turn worsen the ability to
> > retrieve memories, which could in turn lead to seizure activity, and so
> All this is possible. But do you actually know of any documented and
> verifiable cases of people "thinking themselves into a seizure"?
I don't know of any documented cases Matt, but that might be because I've
never looked for them.  I would say that it would be difficult for somebody
to think themselves into a seizure under clinical conditions because under
those conditions people tend to be more interested in what is going on
around them.  They would be much more likely to have one after getting home
that night, when it is easier to think introspectively.

I don't think that a person who is feeling well one moment could think
themselves into a seizure 10 minutes later for example.  I think that it
would require certain types of thoughts (eg those that cause stress, which
might include thinking about having a seizure) to predominate for several

When a person is experiencing the aura that so often precedes a grand mal
seizure, are they thinking themselves into a seizure?  Many people claim to
be able to think themselves out of an aura.  Of special interest to me is
whether thinking those introspective thoughts puts pressure on the memory
and if so, is that because there are existing memory problems.  People who
have an excellent memory, are in my opinion, much less likely to think
introspectively, because their thoughts are being driven by real experiences
(memories of which rise to the level of consciousness) to a much greater
extent.  Note that thinking introspectively is (by my definition at least)
different to thinking about nothing.

> Clearly, seizures are related to the state of neural activity. Visual
> stimuli, such as flashbulbs or repetitive strobing (like the lines on
> the highway flowing past a moving car) can trigger seizures in many
> people.
> But it isn't clear that internal "conscious" activity precipitates
> seizures. I admit it's possible, but just haven't seen it described.
> If it were true, then one could presumably induce a seizure in oneself
> at will.
Visual stimuli causing seizures could also be explained by interactions
occurring within the memory processing parts of the brain.  If the brain is
attempting to store and recall information about the flashes of light etc
(and I assume it is), it could cause problems in the memory processing
areas.  BTW I didn't mean to give the impression that it's only "conscious"
memories that can contribute to seizures.  Unconscious memories - those
which are "there", but for some reason or other don't filter through to the
consciousness - could be playing an equally important role.

> >Most people would probably say that consciousness
> > doesn't require memory.  I disagree.
> I certainly wouldn't say that (why do you think most people would, by
> the way?). Memory is central to consciousness as the function that
> maintains the unity of the "self" from one moment to the next. Without
> this, we couldn't possibly know who we are, and thus wouldn't be able
> to undergo introspection, self-awareness, or whatever consciousness
> is.
There seem to be a lot of people who think of memories as being memories of
things that are clearly defined, such as what they did last night, for
example.  There was an instance of it yesterday when "GFostel" proposed that
I was wrong because he feels just as conscious, if not more so, when he is
meditating and blocking out those types of memories.  I agree with your
description of the central role of memories.

> Incidentally, hippocampal damage doesn't prevent memories of things
> that happened a few minutes ago. This very short term memory buffer
> probably resides in frontal cortex. So patients with hippocampal
> damage don't have a problem remembering who they are, just what they
> had for breakfast yesterday.
It would be interesting to know exactly what is going on in all of the known
memory processing regions of the brain during a grand mal seizure.  I would
be interested to see if consciousness disappears at the same time that all
of those regions go haywire.


More information about the Neur-sci mailing list