Edge has an interesting essay by V.S. Ramachandran arguing that while we may not be any closer to understanding consciousness, an understanding of the neuroscience of ‘the self’ may be within our grasp as demonstrated by studies showing how our perception of self-awareness breaks down in curious ways after brain injury.
There are lots of wonderful examples of how the self can become warped, but I’m not sure that it is entirely held together with Ramachandran’s long held enthusiasm for the explanatory power of mirror neurons.
However, it’s an entertaining and provocative read and well worth your time despite, and probably because of, the somewhat expansive tone in places.
There is one odd section though, the second section of bullet-pointed text, where he refers to the “anterior cumulate” which almost certain should refer to the frontal brain area the ‘anterior cingulate‘, as the anterior cumulate doesn’t exist (an example of Bell’s Frontal Nomenclature Hypertrophy syndrome I wonder?).
Following that paragraph is another where he suggests akinetic mutism is the lack of visual consciousness, which is exactly what it isn’t. In fact, it’s the inability to independently initiate action without external prompting, linked to anterior cingulate damage, and one of the defining features is that the problems are not caused by visual impairments.
Link to Edge on ‘Self Awareness: The Last Frontier’.