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Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

The Sci-Files – 10/8/2023 – Megan McGrath – Gaining the System: What the Thalamus can Teach us about Consciousness

 

On the first episode with the new hosts of The Sci-Files, Mari Dowling and Dimitri Joseph interview Megan McGrath.

Interacting with the world relies on our ability to take in information and stimuli from our environment and integrate it into a cohesive explanation of what it happening around us. But the world is full of constant, unending stimuli…so how do we know what to pay attention to? If we were consciously aware of everything that was happening in the world, we would never be able to function, so our brains have a built in “gain function”, aka the thalamus. This brain structure allows us to fine tune what sensory information actually makes it up to our cortex for conscious processing so that we can get an accurate picture of the world without becoming overwhelmed. But what happens when this goes wrong? And what can that teach us about how to utilize this system to our advantage? That is Megan’s main interest in her research. An aspiring anesthesiologist and consciousness researcher, Megan is interested in the networks necessary for arousal and attention and how sensory input is essential to the conscious experience. Her research focuses on the physiologic underpinnings of thalamic disruption and understanding how small differences in these networks lead to large changes in behavior, pushing to the extreme end of disruption; unconsciousness and anesthesia. She hopes that by gaining a more complete picture of thalamic networks and the spectrum of sensory processing disorders, she can begin to develop a more complete picture of consciousness.

If you’re interested in discussing your MSU research on the radio or nominating a student, please email Mari and Dimitri at [email protected]. Check The Sci-Files out on Twitter and Instagram!

 

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About the Contributors
Mari Dowling, Sci-Files Producer and Co-Host
You can contact the Sci-Files hosts at: [email protected]
Dimitri Joseph, Co-Host of The Sci-Files
Dimitri is a 4th year D.O.-Phd (Pharmacology and Toxicology) student. He is currently in his second year of medical school. He started with Impact 89 FM as a volunteer DJ and is now a co-host of The Sci-Files. Outside of the rigors of the academic hustle, I enjoy consuming or creating a variety of art. "Remind yourself. Nobody is built like you, you designed yourself" - Jay Z

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