Researchers at the University of Wisconsin in Madison (USA) report a new breakthrough in the study of brain function. They applied in practice the technology of "switching off consciousness" with a reversible effect, having managed to transfer a living being from a state close to coma to normal wakefulness at the touch of a button. So far, experiments have been carried out on monkeys, but human volunteers are already being actively sought.
American scientists have focused on the lateral part of the central nucleus of the thalamus. It was previously known that the thalamus is a signal repeater, amplification and processing station. The researchers wanted to understand in detail what role it plays in the processes of wakefulness and sleep, for which they developed special electrodes for point action. Additionally, they wrote a stimulation program that mimics the activity of an active, waking brain.
Central lateral thalamus
The test monkeys were deeply anesthetized, immersed in unconsciousness, and then stimulated. The action was almost instantaneous, the animals came to their senses and began to behave as if they did not turn off at all. But this did not last long - while the current ran along the electrodes, and when the stimulation was turned off, they immediately returned to unconsciousness.
Scientists believe that the human brain works the same way. And this gives hope for the development of new sensors that will accurately signal whether a person is awake, even if there are no visible external signs. For example, to eliminate errors in anesthesia during long-term operations. Also, based on this discovery, new tools may appear for getting people out of coma and fighting narcolepsy.