Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

Living Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan


  • Ronald Cohen
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-56782-2_1279-2



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 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical Cognitive Aging and Memory ProgramUniversity of Florida-GainsvilleGainsvilleUSA