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Question: measuring brain activity is an important source for determining whether...

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Measuring brain activity is an important source for determining whether an individual is conscious. There are thought to be several neurobiological underpinnings of consciousness, rather than just one location in the brain responsible for this. There are three ways in which the neurological correlates of consciousness can be investigated. First, brain waves can be measured. Consciousness is related to low amplitude, irregular brain activity whereas unconscious states (deep sleep, coma, anesthesia, and epileptic states), are characterized by high amplitude, regular, slow-wave brain activity. Second, damage to the brain stem and thalamus can abolish consciousness altogether, whereas the cerebral cortex can disturb certain features of consciousness but will not result in complete loss. Third, conscious experience is widely distributed in different cortical regions, spreading from the sensory cortex to other cortical areas. This pattern of the spreading of activity is not found when people perform automatic, rehearsed activities that do not involve conscious effort, nor is it present when consciousness is lost due to coma or anesthesia. To build your skill: What does coma tell us about the biological bases for consciousness? Your task for this discussion is to read reports on Karen Ann Quinlan and the right to die controversy in 1975. Answer and discuss the following: Why did doctors think Karen was in a vegetative-coma rather than in a coma or locked-in state? What areas of her brain were damaged? What areas of her brain were left undamaged? What does Karen's brain tell us about the nature of human consciousness ? There are several articles and reports available. You need two articles for this assignment. Listed below is a very good one that may be used, in addition to another one you find. Neuropathological Findings in the Brain of Karen Ann Quinlan -- The Role of the Thalamus in the Persistent Vegetative State Hannah C. Kinney, Julius Korein, Ashok Panigrahy, Pieter Dikkes, and Robert Goode N Engl J Med 1994; 330:1469-1475May 26, 1994DOI: 10.1056/NEJM199405263302101

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