From Sponge to Human: The Evolution of Consciousness

M. S.A. Graziano, T. W. Webb

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


The attention schema theory is a proposed explanation for the brain basis of conscious experience. The theory is mechanistic, testable, and supported by at least some preliminary experiments. In the theory, subjective awareness is an internal model of attention that serves several adaptive functions. This chapter discusses the evolution of consciousness in the context of the attention schema theory, beginning with the evolution of attentional mechanisms that emerged more than half a billion years ago and extending to human consciousness and the social attribution of conscious states to others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEvolution of Nervous Systems
Subtitle of host publicationSecond Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9780128040423
ISBN (Print)9780128040966
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine
  • General Neuroscience


  • Attention
  • Awareness
  • Body schema
  • Consciousness
  • Control theory
  • Evolution
  • Hemispatial neglect
  • Metacontrast masking
  • Optic tectum
  • Social cognition
  • Social perception
  • Superior colliculus
  • Temporoparietal junction


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