Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Consciousness – a matter of course?

Being able to move around on our own, knowing who we are, remembering our past – we usually take all this for granted, it is simply normal to us. But sometimes we have to change our mind. Suddenly, what we have taken for granted is not any more.

Simon Lewis had a very severe accident a couple of years ago that left him partly paralyzed and with severe head injuries. In a TED Talk, he outlines how he regained motor control and cognitive functioning. It is impressive how he managed to get from being barely conscious to an active and productive life. His key message is that we should not take consciousness for granted, and that there are a lot of diseases or injuries, e.g. stroke or traumatic head injury, but also depression or migraine that can alter it. Cognitive training causes the brain to redefine itself, due to its plasticity. This, along with communication and a number of medical treatments including medical devices that stimulate his paralyzed leg during walking, helped him recover.



His story once more shows to what great extent the mind can influence the body. It also shows how incredibly flexible the brain is. And last but not least, his story once more proves how important social relationships and communication are. As Simon Lewis expresses it: consciousness is all about communication.

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