Are There Islands of Awareness?

Authors: Bayne, T., Seth, A.K., Massimini, M. РOrdinary human experience is embedded in a web of causal relations that link the brain to the body and the wider environment. However, there might be conditions in which brain activity supports consciousness even when that activity is fully causally isolated from the body and its environment. Such cases would involve what we call islands of awareness: conscious states that are neither shaped by sensory input nor able to be expressed by motor output. This Opinion paper considers conditions in which such islands might occur, including ex craniobrains, hemispherotomy, and in cerebral organoids. We examine possible methods for detecting islands of awareness, and consider their implications for ethics and for the nature of consciousness.

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