We didn’t have excursion this week. Nevertheless the topic for the week was attention and consciousness. The concept of consciousness can be divided to easy problem and hard problem. The hard problem is arguably more interesting but we probably need to have a good grasp of the easy problem to begin to unravel mysteries of the hard problem. They are closely linked though as attention seems to be at the core of our (hard) conscious experience. With our seemingly free will we can increase activity at specific brain areas depending on what we consciously feel important to us. If we could find the source that controls these shifts in activity we might be able to learn something about where thoughts arise from.
In the lecture we were shown statistics about the costs of mental illnesses or brain disorders to society. Putting it to scale the cost in Finland is about 10 % of our yearly budget which is huge. Are humans more prone to brain disorders than other animals? The brain is so complex that no wonder if something doesn’t work perfectly, but we still try to find cure for these problems. It might take a while though as we don’t fully understand the cause for some of the most common brain disorders like depression and Alzheimer’s disease.