Skip to main content

Consciousness

  • Reference work entry
  • 144 Accesses

Synonyms

Alertness; Awareness; Mindfulness; Self-awareness; Wakefulness

Definition

Consciousness comes from the Latin word “conscientia” which means “knowledge-within”, or knowledge that is shared. Today the term is used to describe the experience of “self” as distinct from the external environment. It is characterized by experiences of alertness, self-awareness, and attention of oneself relative to the environment relative to the self; i.e., identify, which in turn involves awareness of one’s own perceptions, associations, emotional experience, and the cognitive interpretation of these experiences. More narrowly, consciousness is often defined level of arousal, wakefulness, alertness, responsiveness, and adaptability in contrast to states of coma or sleep.

However, consciousness has defied unitary definition, perhaps because it is intrinsically bound to subjective experience.

Historical Background

The nature of human consciousness has been a primary topic of philosophical inquiry...

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

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-0-387-79948-3_1279
  • Chapter length: 6 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   1,350.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-0-387-79948-3
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Hardcover Book
USD   1,499.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

References and Readings

  • Churchland, P. S. (2002). Self-representation in nervous systems. Science, 296, 308–310.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Churchland, P. S. (2005). A neurophilosophical slant on consciousness research. Progress in Brain Research, 149, 285–293.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Cohen, R. A. (1993). Neuropsychology of attention. New York: Plenum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Crick, F., & Koch, C. (1990). A framework for consciousness. Nature Neuroscience, 6(2), 119–126.

    Google Scholar 

  • Damasio, A. R. (1995). Consciousness. Knowing how, knowing where. Nature, 375, 106–107.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Damasio, A. R. (2000). The feeling of what happens: Body and emotion in the making of consciousness. New York: Vintage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Damasio, H., Grabowski, T., Frank, R., et al. (1994). The return of Phineas Gage: Clues about the brain from the skull of a famous patient. Science, 264, 1102–1105.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Dennett, D. (1991). Consciousness explained. Boston: Little & Company.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eccles, J. C. (1994). How the self controls its brain. Berlin: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eslinger, P. J. (1998). Neurological and neuropsychological bases of empathy. European Neurology, 39, 193–199.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Grossberg, S. (1999). The link between brain learning, attention, and consciousness. Consciousness and Cognition, 8, 1–44.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Harlow, J. M. (1848). Passage of an iron rod through the head. Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, 39, 389–393.

    Google Scholar 

  • Harlow, J. M. (1868). Recovery from the passage of an iron bar through the head. Publications of the Massachusetts Medical Society, 2, 327–347.

    Google Scholar 

  • McClelland, J. L., Cohen, J. D., & Schooler, J. W. (1997). The neural basis of consciousness and explicit memory: Reflections on Kihlstrom, Mandler and Rumelhart. Scientific approaches to consciousness (pp. 499–509). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rumelhart, D. E., McClelland, J. E., & the PDP Research Group (1986). Parallel distributed processing: Explorations in the miccrostructure of cognition, Vol. 1: Foundations. Cambridge, MA: Bradford/MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shallice, T. (1978). The dominant action system: An information processing approach to consciousness. In K. S. Pope & J. L. Singer (Eds.), The stream of consciousness: Scientific investigations into the flow of experience. New York: Plenum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wundt, W. (1902). Outlines of psychology (Trans., 2nd ed.). Engelmann: Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC

About this entry

Cite this entry

Cohen, R.A. (2011). Consciousness. In: Kreutzer, J.S., DeLuca, J., Caplan, B. (eds) Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-79948-3_1279

Download citation