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Exploring zombie consciousness

Last fall, we posted a fun video exploring the scientific plausibility of a real-life zombie apocalypse. Now, a Popular Science article asks the question, “Do zombies experience consciousness?” The query was prompted by the new movie, "Warm Bodies," in which a zombie has feelings and falls in love.

So, what’s the verdict? According to some scientists, the answer is yes. After all, as Harvard psychiatrist and author Steven Schlozman, MD, says, zombies are really just sick people who got infected with a virus. And: “We would never say that somebody that is sick with another kind of disease isn’t conscious."

The rest of the piece, during which other scientists weigh in on the issue and offer their philosophies and methods to test zombie consciousness, is entertaining and worth a read. I liked this part:

 "We can establish -- as we largely have done already -- which parts of the human brain are critical for the kinds of consciousness that we have and see if they are intact in a zombie," says Daniel Bor, a scientist at the University of Sussex's Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science. "If we could ever get a zombie in a brain scanner."

If we could see that they didn't have a thalamus, for example, scientists would agree that zombies probably wouldn't be conscious. If there were a lot of complex interactions between regions of their zombie brain, that would imply a high level of consciousness.

Previously: Could a virus turn people into zombies? and CDC wants you to prepare for a zombie pandemic
Photo by adamjonfuller

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