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Is the Brain the Seat of Consciousness?
Modern scientists regard the brain as the seat of consciousness. They understand the brain to consist of many different kinds of cells, each a molecular machine. Of these, the nerve cells or neurons, are known to exhibit electrochemical activities roughly analogous to those of the logical switching elements used in computer circuitry. Although scientists at present understand the brain's operation only vaguely, they generally conjecture that these neurons form an information-processing network equivalent to a computer's. Thus they think that thoughts, sensations, and feelings must correspond to higher levels of brain activity, which resemble the higher organizational levels of a complex computer program. Just as the higher levels of such a program are abstract, these higher levels of brain activity must also be abstract.
Majority of the scientists insist that all mental phenomena are functions of the physical brain and nothing more. One of their most common objections to the idea that the mind could be fundamentally different from the brain is that if you alter the brain the mind is also altered. It has been observed that when the speech center of the brain is damaged, a person may become unable to speak, and that by injecting drugs into the body, mood changes and hallucinations may result, etc. People therefore frequently conclude that the mind must be manifested from the physical brain, for otherwise brain states would not affect mental states.This is not the only possible interpretation. Such a correlation could be due to a nonphysical mind using the brain to carry out various functions, in a manner similar to an operator using a computer. This view was held by renowned neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield, whose extensive investigation of brain functions led him to conclude that, "it is, in a sense, the mind with its mechanisms that programs the brain" (Epilepsy, Neurophysiology and Brain Mechanisms).
The mind may become seemingly dependent upon the brain, just as a businessman engaging a computer for inventory calculation may rely on the computer for his work. Should the computer become damaged, the businessman would certainly become impaired in his ability to function; and if the section of the computer memory dealing with inventory reports is wiped out, he would be entirely unable to review his stock. If the brain is such a computerlike instrument, then in cases of brain damage or chemical disturbance we would expect to see an impairment of the mind's functional capacity even though the mind is an entirely separate entity.Both the existence and the nature of the consciousness then neither wholly depend on nor necessitate the presence of a ftonctioning nervous system. The brain, then, is only an instrument with which to start thought, a sort of intellectual switch board the tuning of which permits the flowing in of movements and life, and the closing of which checks the manifestation of both sensation and ideas. Who or what is the consciousness itself? Who sits at the brain switch board to turn it off and on, as it were? Who starts thought? Who perceives phenomena or sensations and transforms them into ideas? The Bhagavad-gita explains that all mental, emotional and physical life emanates from the 'atma' or soul, the non-material entity or personality, but it courses through the brain and the entire nervous system for expression and manifestation. This is not a fantastic proposition. The facts presented below will substantiate it.