Consciousness - not what you might think

I have long thought that the hippocampus/temporal lobe is more of a tourist and less of a driver. [1]

The driver is the midbrain/limbic system.

The back parts of the cortex filter and shape perception, to be registered in hippocampus/temporal lobe as autobiographical memory.

In this general view - the forebrain takes the midbrain “animal impulses” and shape and elaborate them into various actions such as “seeing” (Scanning and parsing visual perception), “hearing” (cocktail effect), and acting. You become aware of taking the action well after you have made the decision.[4]

For a brain activity to enter consciousness it has to have a cortical presence and be part of the “global workspace.” This means that much of what the limbic/midbrain is doing is not directly accessible. I think that this is more properly thought of as the famous subconsciousness. [2] figure 4.

It is well known that the emotions are partly perceived “after” they are unleashed on the body as chemical messengers generated by older brain structures; we feel the effects of emotions after the fact. There is some modulation of perception and memory consolidation by the amygdala but mostly this is not perceived as part of consciousness.[3]

Even then, the content of consciousness is sparse - we tend to think we are seeing much more than we actually do. [2]


1 Like