The Saxon languages, like English, allow us to differentiate conscience, which has a moral connotation, from consciousness, which has a psycho neural significance. In Portuguese there is only one word (consciência) for both cases. According to the classic concept, consciousness is a condition in which the person is aware of his physical and mental actions. What would only happens, if the person is awake and alert. Not if he is sleeping, in a comatose state or under general anesthesia. Later on , we will see that, in relation to the sleeping condition, the concept is debatable. When a person thinks, he can be, or not, aware of this mental action. In other words, a thought may be conscious or unconscious. For instance: When we are driving a car, our minds may be directed to several conscious thoughts which have nothing to do with the driving process, while, at the same time, we are watching traffic, changing clutches or turning directions, in response to an automatic mental command, which we are not aware of. That is to say, we are acting according to unconscious thoughts. And what about thoughts that occur while we dream ? Are they conscious ? The classic answer is no. However, when we will discuss the theory of neuronal assemblies on the formation of consciousness, the answer may well be yes.
The Location of Consciousness - A Historical View
Cortical Association Areas and Neuronal Assemblies
Is Quantum Mechanisms Involved in the Formation of Consciousness?
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Author: Jorge Martins de Oliveira, MD, PhD. Full Professor and Master of UFRJ (Rio de Janeiro). Associate Professor of UFF. Scientific Coordinator. Coordinador and Director of the Department of Neurosciences of the Institute of Human Being (RJ). Fellow in Research by Saint Vincent Charity Hospital, Cleveland, USA. Full Member of Brazilian Academy of Military Medicine. Member of the Brazilian Academy of Writers Physicians. Graduated by Superior School of War (ESG). Member of the Editorial Board of Brain & Mind magazine. Author of "Princípios de Neurociências" (Principles of Neurosciences) and several others. firstname.lastname@example.org