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Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health. 2013 Jul 31;7(1):28. doi: 10.1186/1753-2000-7-28.

Brain and self - a neurophilosophical account.

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  • 1Director of the Mind, Brain Imaging and Neuroethics Research Unit, Institute of Mental Health Research, Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, 1145 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, Canada.


We have experience and are conscious of the world. Who though is conscious? This is the subject or self of experience. While in the past the concept of self has been matter of philosophical discussion, psychoanalysis shifted it into the domain of psychology where it surfaced as ego. More recently, brain imaging allows to investigate the neural mechanisms underlying our subjective experience of a self. The article focuses on discussing different concepts of self as based on the philosophical accounts. These are then complemented by neuroscientific data on self and self-reference. Finally both philosophical and neuroscientific accounts are directly compared with each other while at the same time their relevance for psychoanalysis of self and ego are pointed out.

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