The awakening of alertness and attention triggered by any specific perception.
Awareness is frequently used as a synonym for consciousness. This seems to be rather unfortunate, as consciousness is the ultimate state of awareness, if used in the meaning of a capacity to reflect on one's own perceptions, as integrated and more or less clearly formulated by a human brain.
However, as expressed by F. Capra, this is "a key character of human consciousness". Thus "for a thorough understanding of the general process of cognition in living systems it is thus important to understand how human consciousness, with its abstract thought and symbolic concepts, arises out of the cognitive process that is common to all living organisms"(1997, p. 286)
In fact, awareness in its first state, can be only minimally distant from non-awareness. An example could be the passage from a merely dim perception of cold weather to a much clearer perception of what it means for the observer: 1 )"It feels very cold. 2) Let me have a look on the thermometer for a more precise evaluation"
Awareness leads to focused attention and normally to a more selective orientation of perception, that may in last resort become clearly intentional. This sequence can already be observed in animals like dogs or chimpanzees
In many cases it leads to specific action and is thus a prime mover of selective behavior.