From Scientific American: Many articles and papers equate the experience of consciousness with awareness. However, the reality is that it is possible to experience consciousness without being aware; there is a difference between consciousness, which does not require awareness, and meta-consciousness, or the conscious knowledge of an experience.
“Consciousness may never arise—be it in babies, toddlers, children or adults—because it may always be there to begin with. For all we know, what arises is merely a metacognitive configuration of preexisting consciousness. If so, consciousness may be fundamental in nature—an inherent aspect of every mental process, not a property constituted or somehow generated by particular physical arrangements of the brain. Claims, grounded in subjective reports of experience, of progress toward reducing consciousness to brain physiology may have little—if anything—to do with consciousness proper, but with mechanisms of metacognition instead.”