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Alan J. Robinson robin073 at maroon.tc.umn.edu
Thu Feb 1 15:41:37 EST 1996

This week's issue of Science has an interesting article on the brain 
which demonstrates what REAL research into consciousness is all about. 

S Kinomura, J Larsson, B Gulyas, & P Roland.  Activation by Attention 
of the Human Reticular Formation and Thalamic Intralaminar Nuclei.  
Science 271 pp. 512-514 Jan 26 1996.

The authors are all with the Human Brain Institute, Department of 
Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm.

This type of result would appear to place consciousness and attention 
at a considerably lower level in the brain than the cerebral cortex.  
Because of the need for continuously prioritizing thoughts and
actions to produce an optimized response to the challenges of the 
environment and maintain internal homeostasis, it would seem quite 
possible these brain structures (in particular the thalamus) 
effectively perform the function of an homunculus (denied in many 
theories of the brain.)

There are quite a few other modulatory neural pathways which ascend 
from nuclei in the brain stem which also play key roles in determining 
brain and body state.  Dysfunction of these pathways is responsible 
for the symptoms of many diseases.


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