Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan


  • Ronald A. CohenEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1279


Alertness; Awareness; Mindfulness; Self-awareness; Wakefulness


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 as 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...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory, McKnight Brain Institute, University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA