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    Being conscious is a profound aspect of human existence, and understanding its function and its inception is considered one of the truly grand scientific challenges. However, the nature of consciousness remains enigmatic, to a large part because "being conscious" can refer to both the content (phenomenology) and the level (arousal) of consciousness, and how these different aspects are related remains unclear. To empirically assess the relation between level and content of consciousness, we manipulated these two aspects by presenting stimuli consciously or non-consciously and by using Propofol sedation, while brain activity was measured using fMRI. We observed that sedation affected both conscious and non-conscious processes but at different hierarchical levels; while conscious processing was altered in higher-order regions (the intraparietal sulcus) and spared sensory areas, the opposite effect was observed for non-conscious processing. The observation that Propofol affected non-conscious processing calls for a reconsideration of what kind of information one can gain on "consciousness" from recording neural responses to sedation without considering both (content) conscious and (content) non-conscious processing. Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.


    A Fontan, L Lindgren, T Pedale, C Brorsson, F Bergström, J Eriksson. A reduced level of consciousness affects non-conscious processes. NeuroImage. 2021 Dec 01;244:118571

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    PMID: 34509624

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