A consciousness conductor synchronizes and connects brain areas
on 17 May 2020
The living brain

When life is going well, it seems like a harmonious rhythm of your favourite band or orchestra. When it's not going so well, it's almost like your being chased by sirens, the never-ending whaling of chaos and calamity but why . . . 

This piece of research caught my eye because you don't often come across research on the claustrum. This is mostly because it is difficult to research in humans and seemingly, not many people suffer from lesions or damage to this area. Structurally it can be found in between the insula cortex (laterally) and the putamen (medially). Mostly it works ipsilaterally (same side) with some contralateral (opposite side) connections. It is a densely packed structure made up of many different cell types, which kind of makes sense because of its function. It combines a lot of sensory data, e.g. sight, colour, sound and touch, our three primary sensory modalities, and converges them into a singular experience (memory). So, in that sense, the visual, auditory and sensorimotor cortices process and store information (sensory experiences) as individual sensory memories. Then the claustrum, one a few convergence/divergence zones, collates this into one experience/memory. It also helps to separate relevant from irrelevant information, which helps us to focus, making the world a more organised and less chaotic place to live! 

The bit that interests me the most, is its role in slow-wave sleep and its connections to many upper (cortical) regions of the brain, these are the parts that play a large role in our humanness. In addition to the upper regions, it also has rich connections to the lower (subcortical) regions too; that part that connects us to the rest of the animal kingdom! Regions that it connects with are (upper) medial prefrontal cortex, sensorimotor cortex, insula cortex, auditory and visual cortex and the cingulate - (lower) thalamic nuclei, basal ganglia which include the putamen, globus palladium, caudate nucleus, substantia nigra, olfactory tubercle, basal ganglia play a large role in much of our motor function. In fact, all of these areas, and some, play a collective role in orchestrating life and Francis Crick (Mr DNA), likened the claustrum to the conductor. Of course, an orchestra, full of experienced and talented musicians could play a tune or two but the conductor brings them harmoniously together. Another brain area mentioned in the research is the entorhinal cortex. This is a part of the hippocampus and it is the part that creates memories of places, spatial orientation and our sense of direction, speed etc. Every day that you successfully navigate your way from your home, to the office, your favourite sandwich bar, is only possible because of the entorhinal cortex!

How we could tie this into hypnosis is by discovering the nemesis of all these brain regions . . . our good old friend, fight or flight, aka stress, anxiety! In order for our brain to function as the Universal Philharmonic Orchestra that it is, is by keeping stress exactly where it should be; in the wings, looking for the danger that lurks in the world around us. At night, when we sleep, our brain needs to go to places it cannot go during the day. So, during the day, our experience is stored in memories, short term, working memory, both explicit and implicit and then, at night, the magical areas, like the hippocampus, insula, pons, thalamus, hypothalamus etc. calm things down and they, along with the now known function of the claustrum, convert new, updated and necessary information into long term memories. Hypnosis and hypnotherapy are the tools that we use to assist clients, when memories have become maladapted, distorted and/or corrupted and, in doing so, make life go off the rails. In a very simple sense, analogically speaking, life is a collection of connected, unconnected, similar and disparate sensory accumulations and a well balanced and managed brain orchestrates our life to perfection; well, almost! A stressed brain takes us everywhere we don't really want to go, nevertheless, we often go there willingly! Hypnotherapy helps to unravel the madness of a seemingly, at times, sane world!

Hypnotherapy is not, or at least shouldn't be, just about hypnosis and therapeutic intervention, it should be about taking a holistic approach to life. In order to function to our utmost potential, we need to focus on "all of the basics," i.e. breathing, hydration, food, sleep, exercise, in all its forms and then hypnosis will work much more effectively. It is still good if you ignore the basics, obviously not too much, and mostly this is the place many clients are already in. Very few clients breathe properly, 99% do not breathe properly (diaphragmatically), many are somewhat dehydrated and many have poor diets. You will survive but for some, longevity could be impaired. But the quality of one's life is not expressed in the number of years they live, It's what they achieve in those years that really counts and all of this is an intrinsic part of the way I deliver my therapy! So, if you want to live a good life, why not make an appointment for a free consultation? See below for the link to a new future!

Hypnotherapy stands out as one of the most effective strategic life management methods there is, especially in its ability to promote clear thinking and good states of mental wellness. The behaviours that make life challenging are often a result of too much stress, too little or poor quality sleep and too little by way of mental and emotional clarity! So, to get or take back control of your mind and your life, it makes perfect sense to use a methodology that addresses the subconscious brain's role in perpetuating negative, vague and ambiguous states of mind. Hypnosis helps us to create calm relaxing states of mind that make life work better! If you would like to address any concerns you have in this direction, or, if you just want the ability to make your life feel better, then why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation? Hypnosis gives you the ability to have a good life! 

My objective is to help people understand how and why we become illogically trapped into emotional experiences that may actually be happening but for reasons, we may never have imagined! If you want to know more about Hypnotherapy, why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation?

For more information on the Free Consultation - Go Here Or, to book your Free Consultation today, you can do so here

The Research:

For scientists searching for the brain's 'control room', an area called the claustrum has emerged as a compelling candidate. This little-studied deep brain structure is thought to be the place where multiple senses are brought together, attention is controlled, and consciousness arises. Observations in mice now support the role of the claustrum as a hub for coordinating activity across the brain. New research from the RIKEN Center for Brain Science (CBS) shows that slow-wave brain activity, a characteristic of sleep and resting states, is controlled by the claustrum. The synchronization of silent and active states across large parts of the brain by these slow waves could contribute to consciousness.

A serendipitous discovery actually led Yoshihiro Yoshihara, team leader at CBS, to investigate the claustrum. His lab normally studies the sense of smell and the detection of pheromones, but they chanced upon a genetically engineered mouse strain with a specific population of brain cells that were present only in the claustrum. These neurons could be turned on using optogenetic technology or selectively silenced through genetic manipulation, thus enabling the study of what turned out to be a vast, claustrum-controlled network. The study by Yoshihara and colleagues was published in Nature Neuroscience on May 11.

They started out by mapping the claustrum's inputs and outputs and found that many higher-order brain areas send connections to the claustrum, such as those involved in sensation and motor control. Outgoing connections from the claustrum were broadly distributed across the brain, reaching numerous brain areas such as prefrontal, orbital, cingulate, motor, insular, and entorhinal cortices. "The claustrum is at the centre of a widespread brain network, covering areas that are involved in cognitive processing," says co-first author Kimiya Narikiyo. "It essentially reaches all higher brain areas and all types of neurons, making it a potential orchestrator of brain-wide activity."

Indeed, this is what the researchers found when they manipulated claustrum neurons optogenetically. Neural firing in the claustrum closely correlated with the slow-wave activity in many brain regions that receive input from the claustrum. When they artificially activated the claustrum by optogenetic light stimulation, it silenced brain activity across the cortex -- a phenomenon known as a "Downstate," which can be seen when mice are asleep or at rest. Up and Down states are known to be synchronized across the cortex by slow waves of activity that travel from the front of the brain to the back. "The slow-wave is especially important during sleep because it promotes homeostasis of synapses across the brain and consolidates memories from the preceding awake period," comments Yoshihara.

The claustrum turns out to be vital for generating this slow-wave activity. Genetically removing the claustrum neurons significantly reduced slow waves in the frontal cortex. "We think the claustrum plays a pivotal role in triggering the down states during slow-wave activity, through its widespread inputs to many cortical areas," says Yoshihara. When these areas subsequently enter an upstate and fire synchronously, this serves to 'replay' memories, transfer information between areas, and consolidate long-term memories, "all functions that may contribute indirectly to a conscious state," Yoshihara observes. "The claustrum is a coordinator of global slow-wave activity, and it is so exciting that we are getting closer to linking specific brain connections and actions with the ultimate puzzle of consciousness."


Story Source:

Materials provided by RIKEN. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Kimiya Narikiyo, Rumiko Mizuguchi, Ayako Ajima, Momoko Shiozaki, Hiroki Hamanaka, Joshua P. Johansen, Kensaku Mori, Yoshihiro Yoshihara. The claustrum coordinates cortical slow-wave activity. Nature Neuroscience, 2020; DOI: 10.1038/s41593-020-0625-7

Cite This Page: RIKEN. "A 'consciousness conductor' synchronizes and connects mouse brain areas." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 May 2020. <>