Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology
: 2007  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 274--275

Neurology of consciousness: Need for Indian impetus

Ravi Prakash1, Shashi Prakash2,  
1 Central Institute of Psychiatry, Kanke, Ranchi - 834 006, Jharkhand, India
2 Tata Consultancy Services, Electrical Engineering Department, Pune, Maharashatra, India

Correspondence Address:
Ravi Prakash
Central Institute of Psychiatry, Kanke, Ranchi - 834 006, Jharkhand

How to cite this article:
Prakash R, Prakash S. Neurology of consciousness: Need for Indian impetus.Ann Indian Acad Neurol 2007;10:274-275

How to cite this URL:
Prakash R, Prakash S. Neurology of consciousness: Need for Indian impetus. Ann Indian Acad Neurol [serial online] 2007 [cited 2021 Jan 18 ];10:274-275
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Dear Sir,

We read the editorial of the July-September 2007 edition with pleasure. The editorial vividly describes the projected goals of UN Millennium Declaration of 2000 in which Indian Academy Of Neurology has a definite role to play. This reminds me of another important proclamation of the year 1990 when President George Bush designated the 1990s as the "Decade of the Brain" and elaborated that the goal of this decade was "to enhance public awareness of the benefits to be derived from brain research" through "appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities." Clearly, this proclamation that led the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health to sponsor a unique interagency initiative was based on the foresighted role that brain research can have on future prospects of health facilities.

The brain decade is over; however, before its completion, it did create a wave of enthusiasm in the world of neurosciences, which can easily be appreciated by just going through the publications on brain research in this decade. One important achievement of this "Brain decade" was that it unveiled the subject of consciousness from the covers of abstractness and fantasy and to put it in the light of neurological investigations. It has not only guided the neuroscientists and mathematicians to converge and think about the mystery [1] but also led to the establishment of new centers for consciousness studies (Center for consciousness studies (Arizona), Washington center of consciousness, James William center of consciousness, Center of transpersonal and consciousness studies (Akamai University) and so on).

Consequently, what we have here is a whole new world of theories that link the so-called abstract nature of consciousness to brain either in the form of neuronal correlates or in the form of cognitive correlates. [2],[3] However, it is a sad scenario that we could find only a couple of new theoretical constructs from the Indian sub-continent. In spite of the fact that the earliest records of concepts of consciousness have been found from the Indian sacred texts, the scientific approach for this basic phenomenon is lacking in the current Indian literature. The limitation in the practical part of the research owing to the lack of modern research tools is understandable. However, the theoretical part has a lot of scope for neuroscientists and mathematicians in India. We believe that the Annals of Indian Academy of neurology can provide a much awaited platform for consciousness researchers in India. This research is important because not only it represents one of the most basic issues of nature similar to the four basic forces of nature (in fact, the universe it self!) but also the pathological alteration of consciousness and attention are integral parts of several psychiatric and neurological disorders that continue to be a constant source of challenge for management strategies. A very focused list of such neurological disorders will not only include delirium, coma and persistent vegetative states [4] but also infective states [5] and neurodegenerative diseases. [6] Mentioning about the attentional deficits in psychiatric disorders will be a form of redundancy of a whole lot of research work done on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, affective disorders, dissociative disorders and a whole lot of other disorders [7] in past couple of decades.

An oversimplified classification of approaches for consciousness studies will be to categorize them in to lab studies and theoretical studies. When the former are based on laboratory findings of neuroimaging studies in various attentional/conscious states before developing a theory, [3] the latter are the types of approaches that first hypothesize a model of consciousness and then examine their behavioral and neuroimaging correlates. [8] We have been working on one such theoretical viewpoint that attempts to correlate the stochasticity of electromagnetic field (EMF) of brain with stochasticity of channel noises. We are focusing on the mechanisms through which the electromagnetic field could have impact on neural firing, for which we have currently targeted the electrical noise of neuron. Our hypothesis is that the endogenous EMF can alter the ion concentration outside neuron in a stochastic manner so that the transmembrane potential fluctuates in a stochastic manner (i.e., by producing electrical noise). This noise can then alter the neuronal firing in one of the many ways. Thus, we are attempting to find out if an autonomic loop exists in the brain in the form of the electromagnetic force of brain that can be correlated with the autonomy of consciousness. We find it a very challenging and at the same time a very interesting topic of study. However, the dearth of literature on these studies from the Asian subcontinent as a whole can be quite discouraging at times. We therefore appeal the editors to encourage participation in this field in the way they have been doing the marvelous job of spreading awareness regarding clinical neurology across the globe.


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