Joao Carlos Holland de Barcellos, Nov/2007
translated by Debora Policastro

One of the most widely accepted models of the brain's functional structure is the one in which the brain is divided into functional areas. In this model, each functional area of ??the brain is responsible for a function or a small set of functions. These functional areas, which do not necessarily need to occupy a contiguous space in the brain, are called functional modules. Thus, within this theory, the brain is a set of functional modules, each one responsible for a small group of information-processing tasks.

Within this perspective, our consciousness would also be one of these modules. The module responsible for consciousness must not be distributed throughout the brain, since when we are unconscious there are parts of the brain that still work. I believe one of the main functions of human consciousness is to delay impulses and/or desires so that they can be subjected to rational analysis (another set of modules) before they are corresponded. That way we may have more efficient responses in relation to the stimuli we receive if we respond to them effectively, with intelligence. Nevertheless, the main function of consciousness (not only in human beings but in all organisms that possess it) is the ability to feel. But the ability to feel, as we have seen, is the ability to receive various impulses and somehow evaluate them before producing a response. Therefore, even a single neuron would also have a small - but not null - ability to feel.

If we look at each brain module within this perspective of being an autonomous and thinking organism, since they also process signals, we can see that each one of them also have its own conscience: their function is exactly to receive several signals from other brain regions and process them before returning an answer.

Thus, each brain module could be seen as having its own "consciousness". They may have the perception of "self-consciousness", capable of perceiving itself, or not. It is possible that each of these "conscious-modules" that form the brain feel things very different from what our conscience normally does. That is because our consciousness, as one of the modules of the brain, is able to feel and perceive the result only, the signals output from other modules, that is, the outcome of its internal processing.

It is important to realize that this concept of "multi-consciousness" is very different from the "Multiple Personality" of the traditional psychiatry [1]. In this pathology, every facet of personality takes over consciousness in an excluding way. When one is active, the other is not and vice versa. The "Multi-consciousness" is not like that. There are multiple consciousnesses simultaneously active in our brains. The one we call "consciousness" would be just one of them, and perhaps NOT EVEN the most important one, as the famous experiments of Benjamin Libet showed (Libet Benjamin set up an experiment showing that our consciousness does not seem to be the main source of our free will [2]) . It is interesting to think that we can live with several of our internal "I" s, without even knowing what "they" actually feel and think.

We have seen that from our definition of consciousness we could theorize that our brain can have multiple internal consciousnesses, and the one we call "consciousness" could be just one of many that inhabit our brain. It may have the ability to monitor the others, choosing which module to activate or not. Or it may be a common area of ??the brain that is used as a way of storing data so that different modules can exchange information among themselves. Anyway, let us get out of our multiple consciousnesses brain and notice that consciousness can be a little beyond what we are used to think.

Portuguese Version:


home : : voltar