Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Hot or not

Electrical stimulation of the human cortex, undertaken for brain surgery, triggers percepts and feelings. A new study documents an ordering principle to these effects: the farther removed from sensory input or motor output structures, the less likely it is that a region contributes to consciousness.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Not all cortical regions contribute equally to consciousness .


  1. Penfield, W. & Perot, P. Brain 86, 595–696 (1963).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Winawer, J. & Parvizi, J. Neuron 92, 1213–1219 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Schrouff, J. et al. Nat. Commun. 11, 656 (2020).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Parvizi, J., Rangarajan, V., Shirer, W. R., Desai, N. & Greicius, M. D. Neuron 80, 1359–1367 (2013).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Fox, K. C. R. et al. Neurology 91, e1519–e1527 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Fox, K.C.R. et al. Nat. Hum. Behav. (2020).

  7. Desmurget, M., Song, Z., Mottolese, C. & Sirigu, A. Trends Cogn. Sci. 17, 442–449 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Boly, M. et al. J. Neurosci. 37, 9603–9613 (2017).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Odegaard, B., Knight, R. T. & Lau, H. J. Neurosci. 37, 9593–9602 (2017).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Koch, C. The Feeling of Life Itself: Why Consciousness is Widespread but Can’t be Computed (MIT Press, 2019).

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Christof Koch.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Koch, C. Hot or not. Nat Hum Behav 4, 991–992 (2020).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing