BEIRUT: When MohammadKoubeissi readied his epileptic patient for a routine exam, he did not know he was about to discover the on-off switch for consciousness. As the director of George Washington University’s Epilepsy Center zapped a region called the “claustrum” deep in the patient’s brain with a mild electric current, a blank stare took hold of her eyes. She stopped talking and making new memories.


What Koubeissi had apparently discovered was a key – a switch that turned his patient’s consciousness on or off. “This is a phenomenon that is unique,” Koubeissi said. “We have not seen a single spot in the brain that, when stimulated, can result in all those things together – unresponsiveness, blank stares, inability to form memories, and so forth.” The results, and their conclusions, were published in the journal Epilepsy and Behavior. [Link]