What if the electromagnetic fields generated by, but which are not identical to, the neuroanatomy of the brain, are in fact the primary seat of consciousness? The brain’s fields are generated by various physiological processes in the brain, but primarily by trans-membrane currents moving through neurons.
Some neuroscientists have long considered the brain’s oscillating electromagnetic fields to be interesting but merely “epiphenomenal” features of the brain—like a train whistle on a steam-powered locomotive. Electromagnetic fields may just be noise that doesn’t affect the workings of the brain.
It’s far too early to claim that the brain’s electromagnetic fields are the primary seat of consciousness with much confidence. But philosophers and neuroscientists who have proposed electromagnetic field theories of consciousness, of which my own General Resonance Theory is one variety, are building up evidence. The interested reader should check out Douglas Fields’ new book, Electric Brain: How the New Science of Brainwaves Reads Minds, Tells Us How We Learn, and Helps Us Change for the Better, as an introduction to this line of work. It delves into this debate in great detail. “Brainwaves are key to consciousness,” he writes. “But the results thus far are correlations and don’t prove cause and effect.”