Consciousness is discontinuous: the perception of continuity requires conscious vectors and needs to be balanced with creativity

Med Hypotheses. 2004;62(6):1003-5. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2004.01.009.


Consciousness is not what it appears to be. While we are awake and alert, consciousness appears to be continuous, but actually is broken up into discrete intervals. The perception of continuity is critical for cognitive performance, linking together an otherwise disparate collection of thoughts. The perception requires an understanding of how information changes and evolves between conscious intervals. This understanding is analogous to the vectors used by the visual system to add motion to otherwise still images. Determining conscious vectors, however, is much more complex than determining motion vectors and presumably strains cognitive resources. This strain, in turn, limits the ability to bring in new information and ideas, creating a tradeoff between continuity and creativity. Optimizing this tradeoff may provide significant benefits both for common mental tasks and serious neurological conditions.

MeSH terms

  • Attention
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cognition
  • Consciousness*
  • Creativity*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Perception*
  • Personality Development
  • Visual Perception