Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Awareness is a relative concept. An animal may be partially aware, may be subconsciously aware or may be acutely aware of an event. Awareness may be focused on an internal state, such as a visceral feeling, or on external events by way of sensory perception. Awareness provides the raw material from which animals develop qualia, or subjective ideas about their experience.
Electro-chemical networks related to the chordate nervous system facilitate awareness. Researchers have debated what minimal components are necessary for animals to be aware of environmental stimulus, though all animals have some capacity for acute reactive behavior that implies a faculty for awareness.
Popular ideas about consciousness suggest the phenomenon describes a condition of being aware of one's awareness. Efforts to describe consciousness in neurological terms have focused on describing networks in the brain that develop awareness of the qualia developed by other networks.
Neural systems that regulate attention serve to attentuate awareness among complex animals whose central and peripheral nervous system provides more information than cognitive areas of the brain can assimilate. Within an attenuated system of awareness, a mind might be aware of much more than is being contemplated in a focused extended consciousness.
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