Homeostatic Feelings and the Emergence of Consciousness

Author: Antonio Damasio1, Hanna Damasio1
1 University of Southern California.
Conference/Journal: J Cogn Neurosci
Date published: 2024 Feb 2
Other: Pages: 1-7 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_02119. , Word Count: 161

In this article, we summarize our views on the problem of consciousness and outline the current version of a novel hypothesis for how conscious minds can be generated in mammalian organisms. We propose that a mind can be considered conscious when three processes are in place: the first is a continuous generation of interoceptive feelings, which results in experiencing of the organism's internal operations; the second is the equally continuous production of images, generated according to the organism's sensory perspective relative to its surround; the third combines feeling/experience and perspective resulting in a process of subjectivity relative to the image contents. We also propose a biological basis for these three components: the peripheral and central physiology of interoception and exteroception help explain the implementation of the first two components, whereas the third depends on central nervous system integration, at multiple levels, from spinal cord, brainstem, and diencephalic nuclei, to selected regions of the mesial cerebral cortices.

PMID: 38319678 DOI: 10.1162/jocn_a_02119