I found this story very interesting. It relates to an area of the brain called the claustrum. Neauroscientists, working with a woman with epilepsy, accidentally found that electrical stimulation of this area caused the woman to lose conscious awareness, while remaining awake. The idea is that this area of the brain ties together different sensory experiences into a coherent awareness of the world, but by stimulating it, it is no longer able to create this awareness.
It is only one case, on a woman with epilepsy and part of her hippocampus removed, but it's potentially a very informative discovery.As the new study explains, when GW researchers zapped a woman's claustrum with high frequency electrical impulses, she subsequently lost consciousness. The claustrum shocks caused -- as researchers explained -- "arrest of volitional behavior, unresponsiveness, and amnesia without negative motor symptoms or mere aphasia."
When shocked, the woman remained open-eyed, but seemingly blank -- staring ahead, unaware of the world around her.
"I would liken it to a car," explained Koubeissi. "A car on the road has many parts that facilitate its movement -- the gas, the transmission, the engine -- but there's only one spot where you turn the key and it all switches on and works together."
"So while consciousness is a complicated process created via many structures and networks -- we may have found the key," added Koubeissi.