Researchers locate the ‘gateway to consciousness’

(THE DEBRIEF) -- On any given day, our five senses are under a constant bombardment of external stimuli. People who study this area have spent decades wondering why some of those stimuli make it into our conscious awareness, while other sights, sounds, smells, touches, and tastes are relegated to the unconscious mind. Until recently, the question was still an open one. Where in our brain lies consciousness?

Now, in hopes of finding an answer, a team of University of Michigan researchers zeroed in on one particular part of the human brain previously linked to conscious awareness. And based on the results published in the journal Cell Reports, they found that the anterior insular cortex is indeed a gateway to consciousness.

“There are a few previous studies suggested [sic] that the anterior insular cortex is a central informational hub of the brain,” said Dr. Zirui Huang, Ph.D., a researcher at the Department of Anesthesiology and Center for Consciousness Science at Michigan Medicine said in an email to The Debrief. “It receives inputs from different sensory modalities and the internal environment like interoception or emotions, and determines the relevance and processing priorities across modalities.”

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