Consciousness is the interface between sensation and engram; between what you are perceiving, and the way your brain is programmed to respond to those sensations.
If the sensations operate on an unconscious level, we call it “instinct,” because our conscious minds do not register the sense of being in control of our actions. If there is a fire, unless we have firefighter training our instincts kick in and we flee the scene. Our brains might even blank out – our unconscious minds have too much on their plate getting away from the fire to store the record of the sensations felt in long-term memory, meaning that we forget what happened when new memories obliterate what was still in the short-term memory. This is particularly true of moments of heightened passions, such as fear, blinding anger or sexual intercourse.
When the stimuli are non-urgent, meaning that our minds can process them consciously (and therefore really slowly, compared to the way the unconscious mind operates), we call our actions “consciousness” and delude ourselves that our conscious thoughts and choices are who we are.
But in truth, that which we call the “conscious mind” is just the interface between your programmed responses and the signals coming in from your sense organs to the brain.
Consciousness is, as it were, a flame. Sensory signals are the oxygen; the engrams are the fuel, or maybe the catalyst. Where they meet, consciousness exists.
To paraphrase Bulwer-Lytton, who once said “Art and science have their meeting point in method,” it could be said that “Sense and engram have their meeting point in consciousness.”