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Brain Mechanisms for Consciousness and Conscious Experience

George Ojemann
Canadian Psychology, April 1986, 27 (2): 158-168.


Reviews the brain mechanism that underlies consciousness, with reference to J. Jaynes's ideas on consciousness and its origin in evolution. The present author distinguishes between individual and collective consciousness, the former being biologic and the latter recorded in culture through language. It is suggested that collective consciousness is the source of Jaynes's evidence for changes in individual consciousness. Evidence is cited to demonstrate a relationship between discrete cortical areas for different language functions and consciousness. It is concluded that conscious experience depends on the left brain language cortex and the thalamocortical activating mechanisms that select appropriate cortical mosaics for a language task and modulate retention of verbal information.