Consciousness and neurosurgery

Francis Crick, Christof Koch, Gabriel Kreiman, Itzhak Fried*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


THE NEURONAL BASIS of consciousness is the greatest challenge to the scientific worldview. Much relevant empirical work is carried out on the minimal neuronal mechanisms underlying any one specific conscious percept. Two broad approaches are popular among brain scientists: electrophysiological recordings from individual neurons in the cortex of behaving monkeys or behavior combined with functional brain imaging in humans. However, many aspects of consciousness are problematic or remain off-limits to the former approach, while the latter one lacks sufficient spatial and temporal resolution to monitor individual neurons that are key to perception, thought, memory, and action. It is here that neurosurgeons, probing the living human brain on a daily basis, can play a decisive role. This article explores the contributions of neurosurgeons to this quest and outlines some of the results that have already been achieved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-281
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Cerebral cortex
  • Consciousness
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Medial temporal lobe
  • Neuronal correlates of consciousness
  • Single-neuron recordings
  • Visual awareness


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