Just by coincidence, yesterday I found this video (and transcript), at Big Think blog: What is consciousness.
Also by coincidence, today, I ran across this news item in google reader - Heartbreak for parents as boy born without a brain dies after three-year 'miracle life
Excerpt:"Nickolas Coke suffered from a rare condition known as anencephaly, meaning he was born with only a brain stem."Well, there are different severities of this condition, and sometimes brainstems aren't present either. The condition itself is a neural tube defect, in which sometimes only some bits of spinal cord don't close or are missing. When it's part or all of the brain missing, then it's called anencephaly. It sounds like this little guy, having had a brainstem, and a head that had closed over it, was able to live for a time at least, and interact some with his parents.
Antonio Damasio, Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain. Pantheon; 1 edition (November 9, 2010)