Thanks to Science, a Better Definition of Consciousness

Science is better defining what have been some gray areas of consciousness. By using brain scans to measure the patients' awareness, we are arriving at sounder and more ethical medicine.

What's the Latest Development?


New research out of the UK suggests that a new classification system for consciousness will help doctors and families better understand the condition of individuals with brain injuries. By measuring the brain activity of patients in a vegetative state while they responded to doctors' cuespatients were asked to think of certain images, such as playing tennis or visiting the rooms in their houseresearchers concluded that the vegetative patients' level of responsiveness was the same as control patients who were entirely conscious.

What's the Big Idea?

When it comes to consciousness, a fundamental distinction is made between its contents and its levels. The contents of consciousness are our subjective experiences, such as the sound of a violin. "Levels of consciousness, on the other hand, have to do with outward signs of a person's...state of awareness." People with aberrant awareness are typically placed into one of three categories: having a coma, being in a vegetative state and being 'minimally conscious'. But based on recent research, those categories must now be reevaluated.

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

Stress is contagious–but resilience can be too

The way that you think about stress can actually transform the effect that it has on you – and others.

Big Think Edge
  • Stress is contagious, and the higher up in an organization you are the more your stress will be noticed and felt by others.
  • Kelly McGonigal teaches "Reset your mindset to reduce stress" for Big Think Edge.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Do you have a self-actualized personality? Maslow revisited

Rediscovering the principles of self-actualisation might be just the tonic that the modern world is crying out for.

Personal Growth

Abraham Maslow was the 20th-century American psychologist best-known for explaining motivation through his hierarchy of needs, which he represented in a pyramid. At the base, our physiological needs include food, water, warmth and rest.

Keep reading Show less

Scientists reactivate cells from 28,000-year-old woolly mammoth

"I was so moved when I saw the cells stir," said 90-year-old study co-author Akira Iritani. "I'd been hoping for this for 20 years."

Yamagata et al.
Surprising Science
  • The team managed to stimulate nucleus-like structures to perform some biological processes, but not cell division.
  • Unless better technology and DNA samples emerge in the future, it's unlikely that scientists will be able to clone a woolly mammoth.
  • Still, studying the DNA of woolly mammoths provides valuable insights into the genetic adaptations that allowed them to survive in unique environments.
Keep reading Show less

Why believing in soulmates makes people more likely to "ghost" romantic partners

Does believing in true love make people act like jerks?

Thought Catalog via Unsplash
Sex & Relationships
  • Ghosting, or the practice of cutting off all contact suddenly with a romantic partner, is a controversial method of dumping someone.
  • People generally agree that it's bad form, but new research shows that people have surprisingly different opinions on the practice.
  • Overall, people who are more destiny-oriented (more likely to believe that they have a soulmate) tend to approve of ghosting more, while people who are more growth-oriented (more likely to believe relationships are made rather than born) are less tolerant of ghosting.
Keep reading Show less