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Neuropsychology of Consciousness

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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00050

Neuropsychology of Consciousness: Some History and a Few New Trends

  • 1Department of Neuroscience, Biomedicine, and Movement Sciences, University of Verona, Italy

Consciousness is a global activity of the nervous system. Its physiological and pathological mechanisms have been studied in relation to the natural sleep-wake cycle and various forms of normal or morbid unconsciousness, mainly in neurophysiology and clinical neurology. Neuropsychology has been more interested in specific higher brain function, such as perception and memory and their disorders, rather than in consciousness per se. However, neuropsychology has been at the forefront in the identification of conscious and unconscious components in the processing of sensory and mnestic information. The present review describes some historical steps in the formulation of consciousness as a global brain function with arousal and content as principal ingredients, respectively instantiated in the subcortex and the neocortex. It then reports a few fresh developments in neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience which emphasize the importance of the hippocampus for thinking and dreaming. Non-neocortical structures may contribute to the contents of consciousness more than previously believed.

Keywords: Neuropsychology, Consciousness and unconsciousness, Arousal and Content, Hippocampus, Thinking and Dreaming

Received: 27 Oct 2018; Accepted: 09 Jan 2019.

Edited by:

Anna M. Berti, University of Turin, Italy

Reviewed by:

Elisabetta Ladavas, University of Bologna, Italy
Lorenzo Pia, University of Turin, Italy  

Copyright: © 2019 Berlucchi and Marzi. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Giovanni Berlucchi, Department of Neuroscience, Biomedicine, and Movement Sciences, University of Verona, Verona, 37134, Veneto, Italy, giovanni.berlucchi@univr.it