Bridgeman, Bruce Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz, California.
Last reviewed:June 2019
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- Psychology and consciousness
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The state of being aware of one's own existence, of one's mental states, and of the impressions made upon one's senses. Consciousness is central to human existence, yet it has proved difficult to define and characterize. Typically, consciousness (see illustration) can be defined as the awareness of the various sensations, thoughts, and feelings that an individual experiences at a particular moment. A useful criterion in humans is as follows: if one can communicate with others about an event or a perception, it is conscious; otherwise, it is not. In addition, the terminology can refer to waking consciousness or altered states of consciousness. See also: Cognition; Perception; Sensation
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