Scientific+American+Mind+20190304

(Marty) #1

It may be one of the greatest scientific mysteries yet to be solved: What is consciousness? It’s an explana-
tory gap that still plagues neuroscientists—that is, what forges the relationship between the brain and the
subjective sensations we call “feelings” or “awareness? ” In a special report in this issue, we include several
fresh takes on what gives humans, at the very least, consciousness. In one article, Peter Carruthers sits
down with editor Steve Ayan to explain his hypothesis that consciousness is mostly an illusion (see “There
Is No Such Thing as Conscious Thought”); the thoughts and feelings that arise in your mind are a result of
unconscious mental processes operating behind the scenes. You feel you know your own mind, but it’s
truly operating automatically. Dare I say the mind has a mind of its own?


Ayan further explores this idea in his article “The Brain’s Autopilot Mechanism Steers Consciousness.”
Consciousness is only an impression of immediacy, he writes. We become aware of our consciousness
when the brain’s background activities and predictions conflict with reality. Another fun idea that has come
together in the past decade is that synchronized vibrations among living creatures are at the heart of hu-
man consciousness. Read more in Tam Hunt’s article “The Hippies Were Right! It’s All about Vibrations,
Man!” As always, I hope you enjoy this issue, as much as your conscious mind allows.


Andrea Gawrylewski
Collections Editor
editors@sciam.com

On the Cover
The New Science of Consciousness
What is it? A stream of
unconscious thought, synced
vibrations or just an illusion?

VICTOR TONGDEE

GETTY IMAGES

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The Illusion of Mind


FROM
THE
EDITOR


LIZ TORMES
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