The ‘inchoate’ science of consciousness

brick_head.jpgNeuroscientist Christof Koch manages to write an odd article on consciousness and gets an obscure word into the title of a piece published in The Scientist.

Apparently ‘inchoate’ (I had to look it up) means “partially but not fully in existence”, which pretty much sums up the article.

It starts with a brief overview of the history of consciousness and then gives a few snapshots of recent research projects, all of which seems fine until there’s a strange paragraph on a study of mice who have had their nicotine receptors altered…

While the β2 knockout animals move rapidly through a novel terrain with little exploration, animals in which nicotinic transmission has been restored in the VTA [ventral tegmental area] show more adaptive behavior that, if observed in humans, would be associated with planning and consciousness.

Quite how exploratory behaviour in laboratory mice is ‘associated’ with human consciousness eludes me right now.

As one of the few talking mice in existence, perhaps we should ask Mickey about his conscious experience and extrapolate to his smaller cousins?

Link to article ‘The Inchoate Science of Consciousness’.

One Comment

  1. Posted September 16, 2005 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    If I’m reading Antonio Damasio’s “Feeling of What Happens” correctly, the VTA is associated with emotion, so presumably the mice with this area reactivated would tend to show more fear and caution and explore more thoroughly before advancing rather than moving ahead rapidly.
    Doesn’t mean they are “planning” anything, though.


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