Greatest Minds and the Mystery of Dreaming

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What is consciousness and why does it exist? How are we being conscious of our respective existence? How do we become aware of what is happening to us? How do we perceive things around us? How our brain generates a sense of consciousness?

These are some unsolved fundamental problems in Science.

One can define consciousness is the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of self hood, and the executive control system of the mind. We know that our consciousness depends upon the representation of objects/things and events/actions mapped through sensory modalities like touching, smelling, hearing, vision and taste. We become conscious of the objects/things and events/actions that the sensory system records. Our consciousness depends upon these mapped representations of objects and events constructed by our brain.

Such mappings by brain are necessary for consciousness but are these sufficient for consciousness to arise?

From decades researchers are probing brain with sophisticated imaging techniques. These techniques can pick simple changes in neural activity. But still fundamental phenomenon of consciousness remains unclear. Fundamental anatomy of thought is not yet detected. No scientist on earth knows how brain shapes our (human) nature?

However researchers do believe that consciousness (e.g. all mental processes of acquiring and understanding through thought, experience and senses) emerge from interplay of electro-chemical impulses along the brain circuitry.

This is the foundation upon which researchers at the Human Connectome Project, the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle are going to build future understanding of consciousness. They are going to chart the brain’s major circuits. For the first time researchers will prepare brain’s basic wiring diagram. The physical circuitry of the average brain contains about 100 billion specialized cells called neurons linked by 150 trillion or so connections known as synapses. Ultimately, researchers will have to document every microscopic link between every neurons (on the brain's 100 billion neurons) encompassing trillions of links.

This task is far beyond any laboratory's mapping capacity today. But anyhow, we assume that researchers are able to prepare brain’s basic wiring diagram successfully. In the end researchers will only be able to determine critical neural connections and this information will yield clues to the severe and chronic mental disorders like schizophrenia, autism and multiple sclerosis.

But still there are certain questions to be answered;

  • Will researchers ever be able to unlock the biological mechanisms behind feeling or emotions?

  • Will they ever be able to unravel how a sense of self-hood is created?

  • Will Science ever be able to answer all these questions?

Mysteries of consciousness, as well as, working of memory and dreaming process will remain fundamental unsolved problems in Science. While sleeping every day and night each of us on planet Earth is receiving cryptic messages in the form of dreams. “Someone” is always trying to guide us through our dreams.

As Science and scientists are still unable to discover the origins of our dreams, how can they decipher our dreams?