The complex activity of the human brain makes it difficult to get a big picture of how the brain works and functions as the mind. We examine pertinent studies, as well as evolutionary and embryologic evidence to support our theoretical model consisting of separate but interactive layers of human neural activity. The most basic layer involves default mode network (DMN)activity and cardiorespiratory oscillations. We propose that these oscillations support other neural activity and cognitive processes. The second layer involves limbic system activity accompanied by corresponding changes in cardiorespiratory oscillations. The third layer consists of corticothalamic processing and involves higher cortical functions including awareness, cognition,and consciousness. These layers interact to form the complex neural activity of the human brain. Examining the origins and relationships of various neural and physiologic oscillations may provide better understanding of human neurophysiology and consciousness.
Keywords default mode network  consciousness  limbic system  cardiorespiratory oscillations  corticothalamic processing   slow oscillations
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DOI 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00248
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