Hierarchical Brain

An explanation of the human brain

First published 1st February 2024. This is version 1.5 published 2nd March 2024.
Three pages are not yet published: sleep, memory and an index.
Copyright © 2024 Email info@hierarchicalbrain.com

Warning - the conclusions of this website may be disturbing for some people without a stable mental disposition or with a religious conviction.


Self-awareness is the ability of the brain to be aware of itself and its processes, memories and thoughts, as well as to recognise the body it resides in as being a separate entity. It is the basic requirement for consciousness.

This concept is part of level 6 in my hierarchical structure of levels of description because it depends entirely on the existence of the self-modelling self symbol schema.

References For information on references, see structure of this website - references

  1. ^ Mental Models: Towards a Cognitive Science of Language, Inference, and Consciousness - Philip Johnson-Laird Cambridge University Press 1983
    Page 473, last paragraph, in the chapter entitled “Consciousness and computation”, under the heading “Self-awareness in automata that understand themselves”: “In order for a Craikian automaton [an organism that makes use of a representation of the external world, named after Kenneth Craik] to be conscious and have intentions, it must be enhanced by the crucial component of self-awareness.”
  2. ^ The attention schema theory: a mechanistic account of subjective awareness - Webb and Graziano 2015
    doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00500 downloadable here or see GoogleScholar.
    Beginning of conclusion on page 9: “We argue that the attention schema theory provides a possible answer to the puzzle of subjective experience. The core claim of the theory is that the brain computes a simplified model of the process and current state of attention, and that the content of this model is the basis of subjective reports. According to the theory, subjective reports such as 'I am aware of X' involve the following steps. Stimulus X is encoded as a representation in the brain, competing with other stimulus representations for the brain’s limited processing resources. If stimulus X wins this signal competition, resulting in its being deeply processed by the brain, then stimulus X is attended. According to the theory, an additional step is needed to produce a report of subjective awareness of stimulus X. The brain has to compute a model of the process of attention itself. Attention is, in a sense, a relevant attribute of the stimulus. It’s red, it’s round, it’s at this location, and it’s being attended by me. The complex phenomenon of a stimulus being selectively processed by the brain, attention, is represented in a simplified model, an attention schema.”
  3. ^ Rethinking Consciousness - Graziano 2019 Norton & Company USA
    Third paragraph of dust cover blurb: “Graziano proposes that in order to monitor and control this specialized attention, the brain evolved a simplified model of it - a cartoonish self-description depicting an internal essence with a capacity for knowledge and experience. In other words, consciousness.”

Page last uploaded Mon Feb 19 10:43:53 2024 MST