A theory of consciousness is outlined by (De Luca, A Tony and Stephens, Newman L (2010)) - this is what they postulate - "To understand consciousness we have to understand the mechanism of its function, which is to effectively organize sensory inputs from our environment. Consciousness is the outcome of the process of organizing these sensory inputs. This implies that organization is an act which precedes consciousness:
- My hypothesis is that consciousness is the emergent outcome of several linked processes (outcomes for sensory systems) which are organized to form specific neuronal architectures. The most elemental of these processes is the electrochemical input to the brain cells which originated as external stimuli on specific receptors that in turn generate electrophysiological phenomena such as action potentials to occur in specific areas of the nerves system. These ascend to multiply loci in different parts of the brain. According to some investigators, i.e. Crick and Koch, it is the synchronization of these actions that results in consciousness. Crick termed this the “Astonish Hypothesis” In this book and subsequent articles awareness and perception were used interchangeably with consciousness. However, my hypothesis states that perception is different physiological construct from that of awareness and are elements of the subconscience and consciousness is the process of organizing awareness; its manifestation is the emergence outcome from this process.
In my view, it makes sense that perception is different from awareness. Perception is fast because vision is fast. Vision seems to me to obviously be linked to different cognitions than awareness. To figure out how awareness and perception are different, however, we first need to figure out what 'awareness' is (though I would think that an advanced cognitive process is slower than a fast visual process, as it takes a long time to think complex thoughts). When someone is aware of their environment, is that awareness emotional? A deer or other animal doesn't necessarily need to engage emotionally with other species in order to be aware of its environment. Even frogs posses basic emotional processes (I noticed a from responding emotionally - when you go near it you could possibly try to be nice and not scare it away). What is awareness then? Is it just awareness of ones environment, or awareness of the social cues needed to interact with other species? This is in the abstract of the paper by Deluca and Stephens:
- Consciousness is “something” which the majority of humans know that they posses, they use it when they want to understand their environment. However, no individual human knows whether other humans also posses consciousness. unless some tests such as she is looking at me, he is talking etc., are performed. We are caught in an intellectual sort of recursive carousel – we need consciousness to understand consciousness.
So awareness is complex - you have to be aware of other people, what they are doing, what is going on in your environment. Vision, however, is simple. First people need to see their environment in order to reach conclusions about it (or whatever the equivalent that is that a blind person would do). If someone stops thinking, they could still be able to see. I am just saying it seems to me that vision is a more simple process than advanced awareness. First you see your environment, then you think about it. I would guess that when you aren't thinking, you are still looking around and responding to more simple cognitions that enable you to behave normally. Advanced emotional and intellectual thinking is probably slower than simple thinking and vision.
So no wonder Crick and Koch used the words sensation and perception interchangeably, when someone fist is able to see their environment, when they wake up or whatever, it is as if that is when they are first aware. (Vision being the 'baseline' cognition). This relates to emotional and intellectual complexity, some things are simply more advanced than others to think about. When a baby is born can it think? It can see, and it understands how to interact, but then again, a frog also knows how to interact and I notice they can respond emotionally.