The Unaware Brain: The Role of the Interconnected Modal Matrices in the Centrencephalic Space of Functional Integration

  • Mauro N. MaldonatoEmail author
  • Paolo Valerio
  • Raffaele Sperandeo
  • Antonietta M. Esposito
  • Roberto Vitelli
  • Cristiano Scandurra
  • Benedetta Muzii
  • Silvia Dell’Orco
Part of the Smart Innovation, Systems and Technologies book series (SIST, volume 151)


For over a century, it has been accepted that there exists a remote psychic space that influences our way of thinking, perception, decision-making and so on. This space, defined by Freud as the ‘unconscious’, embodies the psychic element that we are unaware of. It is a space that is an extension and a wider representation of the complex and sophisticated metapsychological apparatus he conceived. With respect to the conscious sphere (whose related anatomical function concerns the encephalic trunk, diencephalon and associative cortical areas), this unconscious dimension relates to the limbic lobe and specific areas of the frontal, parietal and temporal lobes. This complex neurophysiological system connects and coordinates the sensory, emotional, cognitive and behavioural systems. Its sophisticated adaptive functions, implied and unaware, allow the prefrontal cortex to transform a huge amount of information into explicit behaviour, thus affecting our behaviour in terms of executive functions, decision-making, moral judgments and so on. In this paper, we advance the hypothesis that these subcortical components constitute interconnected modal matrices that intervene under certain circumstances to respond to environmental requirements. In this space of functional integration, they act as an intermediary between the frontal cortex, the limbic system and the basal ganglia and are a key player in the planning, selection and decision to carry out appropriate actions. Due to their generativity and intramodal and extramodal connections, it is plausible to assume that they also play a role in mediation between unconscious and conscious thought.


Awareness Basal ganglia Priming Brain imaging Consciousness Evolution Prefrontal cortex 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mauro N. Maldonato
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paolo Valerio
    • 1
  • Raffaele Sperandeo
    • 2
  • Antonietta M. Esposito
    • 3
  • Roberto Vitelli
    • 1
  • Cristiano Scandurra
    • 1
  • Benedetta Muzii
    • 4
  • Silvia Dell’Orco
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Neuroscience and Reproductive and Odontostomatological SciencesUniversity of Naples Federico IINaplesItaly
  2. 2.Department of Human SciencesUniversity of BasilicataPotenzaItaly
  3. 3.National Institute of Geophysics and VolcanologyNaplesItaly
  4. 4.Intradepartmental Program of Clinical Psychology, AOUUniversity of Naples Federico IINaplesItaly
  5. 5.Department of Humanistic StudiesUniversity of Naples Federico IINaplesItaly

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