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.