Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Science & Pregnancy Blog and Consciousness

For those interested, I thought I'd pass along this gem of a blog:

Bumpology - The Science Behind Pregnancy

The author is a pregnant scientist herself, and provides some cool information.

The latest article, the baby's level of consciousness, is especially interesting. I've often wondered whether, or to what degree, our little Merlin is conscious. Is he self-aware? Does he have memories? Does he reflect on those memories?

Consciousness, I think, is largely informed by sensory experience. But what sensory experience does he have up to this point? He's apparently been able to taste differences in the salinity of the amniotic fluid. He's no doubt been able to sense differences between light and dark (we've shined lots of flashlights on Andrea's belly to see if he would react). He can hear muffled sounds. And he's probably felt me push back on his little limbs that he puts close to the surface.

But these episodes barely scratch the surface of what WE experience in our daily life. How can he build an identity, a sense of awareness, from these incredibly watered-down sensory experiences? Does he even recognize the gradients in salinity, light, pressure, or sound?

She confirms in the article what I've always imagined his existence is like to this point: "[T]he fetus remains for the most part sedated by low oxygen levels and anesthetic chemicals that are produced by the placenta . . ." I think our little baby is mostly in a sleepy, anesthetized state, not unlike the foggy state that I remember waking up from when my wisdom teeth were removed, or when I woke up from that nasty concussion in high school after I was hit in the head with a shot-put (I'll tell that story later).

I'm excited for this guy to "wake up" and experience the joys of this outside world in a more conscious state. I think he'll like it.

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