'Transitions of consciousness: how wakefulness modulates different aspects of cognition'

Frankland 309b
Life and Environmental Sciences, Research
Wednesday 18th March 2015 (13:00-14:00)
Download the date to your calendar (.ics file)

Part of the School Seminar Series

Speaker: Dr Tristan Bekinschtein, University of Cambridge

Host: Uta Noppeney

Understanding levels of consciousness and the transitions between conscious and unconscious states has important theoretical and clinical implications. Yet despite the fact that we typically enter a state of unconsciousness every night, remarkably little is known about how we fall asleep or lose consciousness while getting sedated. In a series of hd-EEG experiments of people falling asleep or getting sedated with propofol, we explored the limits of perceptual and semantic decisions, inhibitory control, top-down and bottom-up target detection and introspection. We found there is a differential modulation of the cognitive control capacities by wakefulness. In the transition to unconsciousness, drowsiness affects inhibitory control and top-down target detection earlier than perceptual and abstract (semantic) decisions. We can take decisions, learn, perceive when losing consciousness and even when unconscious, but these are different. We believe these results may help to link experimentally the Information Integration Theory of Consciousness and the Global Neuronal Workspace Theory.