Sense of self and consciousness: Nature, origins, mechanisms and implications | Chapter individual record
abstract

This analysis addresses four issues: 1) the nature and origin of the Sense of Self (SoS), 2) the nature of the sequential development of SoS and consciousness, 3) how a conscious SoS can be created by the brain, and 4) the consequences of a SoS that is consciously perceived. Herein, I present the case that the SoS is like a sixth sense functioning with the same neuroscience principles used by the other senses, yet distinct in that it individuates our other senses in complex and rich ways. SoS is actually created by the other senses. All six senses begin early non-conscious development in the womb as a result of embryonic cell division, migration, and differentiation of neurons. The sculpting of early circuitry is influenced by self-referential stimuli from the developing fetus and from mother-specific signals from the womb that inform those circuits that they have a body they can influence. At some point, a year or more after birth, enough neurons appear and circuitry differentiates to enable episodes of conscious awareness of self and non-self. Consciousness occurs in the context of self and non-self awareness. I submit that the brain implicitly learns to become consciously aware of self and non-self. Such learning, to be consciously operative, requires a species to have enough neuronal circuitry to create the \"carrying capacity\" required for conscious representation of ordinary stimuli, a SoS, and cognitive interactions with environment. The SoS, like all senses, is represented in brain by patterns of nerve impulses propagating in circuitry, which can be called circuit impulse patterns (CIPs) that could contain a combinatorial code of impulse activity, a possibility that is ripe for investigation. The concept is that circuits of interacting neurons can have specific properties of their own that are not evident in any one member neuron. Moreover, the phase and frequency relationships of the CIPs are likely representations of sensation of both ordinary senses and the SoS and no doubt change dramatically as capacity for consciousness develops. This too is a research area whose time has come. Consider that conscious mind could be a CIP Avatar that acts on behalf of the brain and body as a partner with subconscious mind to make the total brain and body functions more adaptive and effective. The CIPs representing the SoS are pre-requisite for a conscious brain to be also aware of things affecting the self and non-self. Thus, brain can be aware, by definition, that it is aware or \"knows that it knows\" about the self's interaction with a world of non-self. Existing technology is sufficient to begin testing these ideas. We should be able to detect CIPs that are specific to the SoS and its conscious perception. Causality seems likely if changing the neural activity patterns changes conscious thought and if changing thought changes the CIP patterns. Implications of conscious self-awareness extend across the whole spectrum of human thought and behavior. Examples are given for such things as value assessment, extension of self via tools, value judgment, self-directed learning, dreaming, and willed behavior, time perception, and notions about death and religion. 2014 by Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

author list (cited authors)
Klemm, W. R.
publication date
2014