About one and a half thousand years ago, ancient philosophers argued about what human consciousness could be. The debate focused on the fact that it can be permanent and continuous. But there were also compelling arguments in favor of the fact that human consciousness can be discrete. Over the years, modern psychophysicists find the answer by creating a new model. It testifies to the fact that the human brain is able to combine both continuous moments of consciousness and discrete ones.
Michael Herzog, professor at the École Polytechnique Federal of Lausanne, believes that the human mind is like a movie. We think the world is as we see it. There are no gaps in it, all frames are combined with each other. But actually it is not.
The discontinuity of consciousness cannot be determined, but you can feel it after it has happened. Human consciousness has an abstract nature. Science knows only two official transitions from one form of consciousness to another, they are when people woke up after sleep and when people woke up after anesthesia. Most theorists hold the idea that consciousness follows basic human intuition, people are conscious every moment of life.
The less popular idea of discrete consciousness promotes the theory that humans can only be conscious at certain times. It has a universal duration. Taking advantage of both theories, psychophysicists have built a new two-stage model where discrete consciousness was preceded by a long unconscious period.
At that time, the brain was continuously processing all the information it had previously received. It's like riding a bicycle, before you fall off it, there are some fractions of a second that reflect the process of an approaching fall in the brain.
It is a combination of short conscious moments with longer unconscious periods. And the brain perceives that difference, offering different clues. Conscious information processing has been overestimated for years. Today science needs to focus on the “dark,” unconscious processing period.
There are many unanswered questions: how are moments of consciousness integrated, what triggers unconscious processing, and how these periods are influenced by personality, stress or illness.