A look inside your mind.
By Emma Meyers
|The claustrum is the wavy gray streak with a wispy
end seen inside the white mater. As depicted in
If Descartes and I are on the same page here, then science has our backs, sort of. In doing some research (that is, intense googling) in hopes of validating or assuaging my worst anosmic fears, I came across a little area of the brain called the claustrum: a thin, curvy layer of gray matter tucked away under the cortex, one on each side. Interestingly, this waif of a structure forms connections with innumerable cortical loops, creating cross-talk connectivity with most of the cortex. All sorts of information converges here – audio, visual, motor – and its role as this integration center has lead scientists Francis Crick (of DNA-helix fame) and Christof Koch to propose that the claustrum is the “conductor coordinating a group of players in the orchestra, the various cortical regions” – essentially what allows the nutty aroma, hot temperature, liquid consistency, brown color, and bitter taste perceived while drinking coffee to be interpreted as a whole, the experience of drinking coffee, rather than a constellation of sensations. Anatomically and physiologically, the claustrum is ripe to be picked out as the seat on consciousness by careful future research.