About this Research Topic
The neuronal networks of the brain can sustain a variety of brain states with different activity patterns, functional connectivity and dynamics. Their activity states largely correspond to different levels of consciousness. Thus, wakefulness, REM sleep, slow-wave sleep, and different forms of anesthesia and other non-responsive states emerge from modified versions of the same network. The network transitions between these states have an impact on processes ranging from homeostasis and synaptic plasticity to cognitive computations. Furthermore, the spectrum of consciousness-related phenomena is rapidly expanding: we are saving islands of human brain from devastating injuries, growing cerebral organoids in a vat, and building intelligent machines that perform certain tasks faster and better than any healthy subject, just to mention a few. Despite the progress made in several theoretical domains, we still lack (a) a broadly accepted definition of the concept of consciousness, and (b) a unified understanding of the neural basis of consciousness.
All these facts open questions that range from the mechanistic underpinnings of brain states to questions related to the meaning and genesis of consciousness and to the boundary between insentient matter and a spark of subjectivity.
In this Research Topic we adopt a broad scope that allows not only a multilevel approach, but also a multidisciplinary dialogue about how activity in neuronal networks results in different brain states, how those support different consciousness states, and in what sense. Where does consciousness arise, what are the underlying mechanisms, how are they altered in brain disorders and what are the criteria for attributing consciousness? Can we expect consciousness to emerge from non-organic entities such as machines?
This Research Topic on brain states and mechanisms of consciousness calls for articles from numerous disciplines including (but not limited to):
• experimental neuroscience
• computational neuroscience
• basic and clinical research
• artificial intelligence and brain simulations
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.