Definition: The process in which the brain creates a model of internal and external experience. Consciousness acts as the, "movie" in our brain (a combination of reality and fantasy). Consciousness restricts our attention, by providing a mental "meeting place", and allows us to create a mental model of the world that we can manipulate. What baffles scientists is how exactly the brain does this.

Quite Simply...

  • The brain does functions that we are both aware of and unaware of. It Provides a place for sensation and memory to combine.
  • Makes your brain aware of your surrounding environment and what you are thinking about.
  • The alertness of the world around us, and how well we can receive sensation, and turn it into perception.
  • It is the part of our mind that helps us connect reality to fantasy.
  • Consciousness is like a garage or a workshop. There's a large work space in the middle where you can work on projects. This is an example of how consciousness restricts the brain because, unlike nonconsciousness, it can only focus on one thing at a time. It would be hard to work on two projects at once. Also, there are small drawers on the side of the workshop where you can resort to get tools or resources to complete the project. While these tools are hidden away they can still be of use when you call them back to attention at the work space.

The roles of Consciousness:
1. Restriction: Keeps the brain from being overstimulated or thinking about too much at once.

2.Combination: Allows sensation to meet with memory, emotions, and motives.
  • A cake acting as a the stimuli triggers the memory of a past birthday.
  • The smell of sunscreen reminds you of summer.

3. Manipulation: allows us to bring both the past and the future into awareness.
  • Keeps one from being too brutally honest to a friend.

Two Metaphors for Consciousness:
  • William James said that the consciousness is like a constantly flowing stream
  • Freud said that the consciousness is like an iceberg


    • When writing an essay, your consciousness makes it hard to focus on what you are writing and the lyrics to a song you are listening to. You must shift your focus between the words in the song and to the words you are typing.
    • If you are hungry and come across a food you like, consciousness forms an image in your head which brings up memory and associates it with food to help you imagine eating that specific food.When you are reading your AP Psychology book and the t.v is on, you shift your attention to the t.v and you are no longer aware of what you were reading.
    • When police encounter a person on the street wearing a common gang symbol, consciousness forms an image of the symbol and consults memory which associates the image with danger, and tells the police officer to approach this person.

Related Information:

    • Conscious states include: sleep, dreaming, hypnosis, and drug-altered consciousness.
    • John Watson disagreed with the idea of consciousness because he was a behaviorist and believed that psychology should only be the study of behavior, not behavior and mental processes. To behaviorists, mental processes are simply a result of our actions and anything unobservable means nothing. This is why they hated introspection and in turn hated consciousness: people would be asked to describe their conscious experience after an experiment.