The Emergence of Human Consciousness: From Fetal to Neonatal Life

Pediatric Research 65 (3):255-60 (2009)

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Abstract
A simple definition of consciousness is sensory awareness of the body, the self, and the world. The fetus may be aware of the body, for example by perceiving pain. It reacts to touch, smell, and sound, and shows facial expressions responding to exter- nal stimuli. However, these reactions are probably preprogrammed and have a subcortical nonconscious origin. Furthermore, the fetus is almost continuously asleep and unconscious partially due to endog- enous sedation. Conversely, the newborn infant can be awake, exhibit sensory awareness, and process memorized mental representations. It is also able to differentiate between self and nonself touch, express emotions, and show signs of shared feelings. Yet, it is unreflective, present oriented, and makes little reference to concept of him/herself. Newborn infants display features characteristic of what may be referred to as basic consciousness and they still have to undergo considerable maturation to reach the level of adult consciousness. The preterm infant, ex utero, may open its eyes and establish minimal eye contact with its mother. It also shows avoidance reactions to harmful stimuli. However, the thalamocortical connections are not yet fully established, which is why it can only reach a minimal level of consciousness.
Keywords consciousness  newborns  development of consciousness  levels of consciousness  sensory awareness
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References found in this work BETA

Consciousness.John R. Searle - 2000 - Intellectica 31:85-110.

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I- The Sense of Self.Barry Dainton - 2016 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 90 (1):113-143.
The Moral Insignificance of Self‐Consciousness.Joshua Shepherd - 2016 - European Journal of Philosophy 24 (4).

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