Caltech Undergraduate Research Journal

CURJ is Caltech's award-winning undergraduate research journal, dedicated to highlighting the accomplishments of the numerous undergraduates conducting research at Caltech during the SURF program and throughout the academic year.

Featured Article

Consciousness, Meet Neuroscience

Florian Merkle and Christof Koch

An image for the article on display.

FOR MILLENNIA, PHILOSOPHY AND WESTERN RELIGION HAVE TENACIOUSLY maintained that the body and mind are two separate entities that together form a conscious human being. This view is perhaps best presented in the writings of Descartes. In his Meditations, he argues that the fusion of mind and body takes place in the pineal gland, located in the center of the brain. Nowadays, however, scientific evidence strongly suggests that consciousness is a property that is derived from structures such as the human brain. Mind and matter are not split: the latter is intimately connected to the former. This realization raises some interesting questions. How does the brain produce consciousness? How can we determine if a system is conscious? If the human brain is conscious, can a machine be conscious? To begin to answer these difficult questions, it would be a good idea to find some common ground to stand on. We should agree on a handful of premises...