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Concept: Awareness


Recent findings link fronto-temporal gamma electroencephalographic (EEG) activity to conscious awareness in dreams, but a causal relationship has not yet been established. We found that current stimulation in the lower gamma band during REM sleep influences ongoing brain activity and induces self-reflective awareness in dreams. Other stimulation frequencies were not effective, suggesting that higher order consciousness is indeed related to synchronous oscillations around 25 and 40 Hz.

Concepts: Sleep, Neuroscience, Electroencephalography, Philosophy of mind, Consciousness, Awareness, Self-awareness, Gamma wave


Does becoming aware of a change to a purely visual stimulus necessarily cause the observer to be able to identify or localise the change or can change detection occur in the absence of identification or localisation? Several theories of visual awareness stress that we are aware of more than just the few objects to which we attend. In particular, it is clear that to some extent we are also aware of the global properties of the scene, such as the mean luminance or the distribution of spatial frequencies. It follows that we may be able to detect a change to a visual scene by detecting a change to one or more of these global properties. However, detecting a change to global property may not supply us with enough information to accurately identify or localise which object in the scene has been changed. Thus, it may be possible to reliably detect the occurrence of changes without being able to identify or localise what has changed. Previous attempts to show that this can occur with natural images have produced mixed results. Here we use a novel analysis technique to provide additional evidence that changes can be detected in natural images without also being identified or localised. It is likely that this occurs by the observers monitoring the global properties of the scene.

Concepts: Detection theory, Change, Metaphysics, Awareness, Identification, Property, Localization, Observer


The dominant theories of human placebo effects rely on a notion that consciously perceptible cues, such as verbal information or distinct stimuli in classical conditioning, provide signals that activate placebo effects. However, growing evidence suggest that behavior can be triggered by stimuli presented outside of conscious awareness. Here, we performed two experiments in which the responses to thermal pain stimuli were assessed. The first experiment assessed whether a conditioning paradigm, using clearly visible cues for high and low pain, could induce placebo and nocebo responses. The second experiment, in a separate group of subjects, assessed whether conditioned placebo and nocebo responses could be triggered in response to nonconscious (masked) exposures to the same cues. A total of 40 healthy volunteers (24 female, mean age 23 y) were investigated in a laboratory setting. Participants rated each pain stimulus on a numeric response scale, ranging from 0 = no pain to 100 = worst imaginable pain. Significant placebo and nocebo effects were found in both experiment 1 (using clearly visible stimuli) and experiment 2 (using nonconscious stimuli), indicating that the mechanisms responsible for placebo and nocebo effects can operate without conscious awareness of the triggering cues. This is a unique experimental verification of the influence of nonconscious conditioned stimuli on placebo/nocebo effects and the results challenge the exclusive role of awareness and conscious cognitions in placebo responses.

Concepts: Causality, Consciousness, Experiment, Placebo, Theory, Behaviorism, Awareness, Classical conditioning


Efforts to create computational models of consciousness have accelerated over the last two decades, creating a field that has become known as artificial consciousness. There have been two main motivations for this controversial work: to develop a better scientific understanding of the nature of human/animal consciousness and to produce machines that genuinely exhibit conscious awareness. This review begins by briefly explaining some of the concepts and terminology used by investigators working on machine consciousness, and summarizes key neurobiological correlates of human consciousness that are particularly relevant to past computational studies. Models of consciousness developed over the last twenty years are then surveyed. These models are largely found to fall into five categories based on the fundamental issue that their developers have selected as being most central to consciousness: a global workspace, information integration, an internal self-model, higher-level representations, or attention mechanisms. For each of these five categories, an overview of past work is given, a representative example is presented in some detail to illustrate the approach, and comments are provided on the contributions and limitations of the methodology. Three conclusions are offered about the state of the field based on this review: (1) computational modeling has become an effective and accepted methodology for the scientific study of consciousness, (2) existing computational models have successfully captured a number of neurobiological, cognitive, and behavioral correlates of conscious information processing as machine simulations, and (3) no existing approach to artificial consciousness has presented a compelling demonstration of phenomenal machine consciousness, or even clear evidence that artificial phenomenal consciousness will eventually be possible. The paper concludes by discussing the importance of continuing work in this area, considering the ethical issues it raises, and making predictions concerning future developments.

Concepts: Philosophy of mind, Mind, Consciousness, Artificial intelligence, Cognitive neuroscience, Awareness, Consciousness studies, Artificial consciousness


Jung’s Word Association Test was performed under fMRI conditions by 12 normal subjects. Pooled complexed responses were contrasted against pooled neutral ones. The fMRI activation pattern of this generic ‘complexed response’ was very strong (corrected Z scores ranging from 4.90 to 5.69). The activation pattern in each hemisphere includes mirror neurone areas that track ‘otherness’ (perspectival empathy), anterior insula (both self-awareness and emotional empathy), and cingulated gyrus (self-awareness and conflict-monitoring). These are the sites described by Siegel and colleagues as the ‘resonance circuitry’ in the brain which is central to mindfulness (awareness of self) and empathy (sense of the other), negotiations between self awareness and the ‘internal other’. But there is also an interhemispheric dialogue. Within 3 seconds, the left hemisphere over-rides the right (at least in our normal subjects). Mindfulness and empathy are central to good psychotherapy, and complexes can be windows of opportunity if left-brain hegemony is resisted. This study sets foundations for further research: (i) QEEG studies (with their finer temporal resolution) of complexed responses in normal subjects (ii) QEEG and fMRI studies of complexed responses in other conditions, like schizophrenia, PTSD, disorders of self organization.

Concepts: Human brain, Cerebrum, Philosophy of mind, Empathy, Awareness, Self, Self-awareness, Other


Policy Points: Many barriers hamper advocacy for health equity, including the contemporary economic zeitgeist, the biomedical health perspective, and difficulties cooperating across policy sectors on the issue. Effective advocacy should include persistent efforts to raise awareness and understanding of the social determinants of health. Education on the social determinants as part of medical training should be encouraged, including professional training within disadvantaged communities. Advocacy organizations have a central role in advocating for health equity given the challenges bridging the worlds of civil society, research, and policy.

Concepts: Understanding, Sociology, Profession, Awareness, Community, Society, Civil society, Advocacy


Mounting physiological and behavioral evidence has shown that the detectability of a visual stimulus can be enhanced by a simultaneously presented sound. The mechanisms underlying these cross-sensory effects, however, remain largely unknown. Using continuous flash suppression (CFS), we rendered a complex, dynamic visual stimulus (i.e., a talking face) consciously invisible to participants. We presented the visual stimulus together with a suprathreshold auditory stimulus (i.e., a voice speaking a sentence) that either matched or mismatched the lip movements of the talking face. We compared how long it took for the talking face to overcome interocular suppression and become visible to participants in the matched and mismatched conditions. Our results showed that the detection of the face was facilitated by the presentation of a matching auditory sentence, in comparison with the presentation of a mismatching sentence. This finding indicates that the registration of audiovisual correspondences occurs at an early stage of processing, even when the visual information is blocked from conscious awareness.

Concepts: Consciousness, Detection theory, Awareness, Face, Presentation of Mary, Self-awareness, Speech, Binocular rivalry


We investigated awareness in dental hygienists of bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw (BRONJ) in patients with osteoporosis and cancer and assessed the situation in systemic history investigations to broaden the scope of the dental hygienists' BRONJ awareness as a basis for contributing to preventing this disease. The study was carried out through a survey; 217 dental hygienists responded to the survey. They worked at 12 university and general hospitals, 10 dental hospitals and 35 dental clinics, for a total of 57 institutions in Seoul. The survey consisted of 37 questions: general characteristics (J Oral Maxillofac Surg 65: 2007; 369), systemic history investigations (Ruggiero et al. J Oral Maxillofac Surg 62: 2004; 527) and awareness of BRONJ (Park et al. J Korean Dent Assoc 49: 2011; 389). Among them, 79.7% were aware of BRONJ. Recognition was highest among those from 25 to 35 years old (P < 0.05). In terms of work experience, those with 5-10 years experience showed the highest awareness (P < 0.05). In terms of institutions type, dental clinics showed lower awareness than general and dental hospitals (P < 0.05). It was found that 55.3% of the dental hygienists had been educated about BRONJ. Those aged 25-35 years were the most educated. In terms of institutions, dental clinic staff were the least educated. The degree of understanding about BRONJ was analysed with the average score of 6.14 points. According to these results, dental hygienists working in university hospitals and general hospitals had more opportunity to receive training than those working in dental clinics. Thus, it is considered that the development of professional training programs about BRONJ for all dental hygienists is necessary.

Concepts: Understanding, Hospital, Awareness, Clinic, Dentistry, Oral and maxillofacial surgery, Dental hygienist, Osteonecrosis of the jaw


Sepsis is an established global health priority with high mortality that can be curtailed through early recognition and intervention; as such, efforts to raise awareness are potentially impactful and increasingly common. We sought to characterize trends in the awareness of sepsis by examining temporal, geographic, and other changes in search engine utilization for sepsis information-seeking online.

Concepts: Search engine optimization, Awareness, Self-awareness


Using technology to self-monitor body weight, dietary intake, and physical activity is a common practice used by consumers and health companies to increase awareness of current and desired behaviors in weight loss. Understanding how to best use the information gathered by these relatively new methods needs to be further explored.

Concepts: Health, Nutrition, Understanding, Obesity, Physical exercise, Mass, Weight loss, Awareness