We have already seen that neither the brain record alone nor any existing internal relations of the cerebrum at a particular time or at any time, by voluntary or involuntary action, could generate or bring into activity a power of cognition without a stimulus to brain activity. How, then, does it originate ? We have defined the life of a body as the period of activity of the involuntary vital function.
Therefore, there is at all times during the life of the body the involuntary action of the involuntary vital organs. During the periods of oblivion this involuntary action also absolutely controls the entire system, including even the organs which, during the conscious state, are under the control of volition.
The sensory fibers must, therefore, along with all other organs, be subject during oblivion to involuntary action. Of this we have ample evidence in the reflex actions, in which the stimulus of external relations, through the sensory and motor fibers, the spinal cord, the medulla and cerebellum, without any cerebral act or knowledge, causes muscular movement and recoil of the part affected from the contact.
The nerve fibers, therefore, both motor and sensory, have the involuntary power of transmitting impulses of energy, but these impulses cannot enter the cerebrum during oblivion. They may knock at the door, but are refused admission while the cerebrum is resting and rejuvenating. But these knockings would of themselves constitute a stimulus to brain activity, and would, if strong enough, cause the door to open and cause the generation of a conscious state. These involuntary knockings at the door of the cerebrum may occur at any time and would occur whenever there is the stimulus of external relations.
***Excerpt from Charles John Reed: The Law of Vital Infusion and the Phenomenon of Consciousness