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Front Psychol. 2011 Dec 23;2:383. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00383. eCollection 2011.

Multi-sensory and sensorimotor foundation of bodily self-consciousness - an interdisciplinary approach.

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Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Lausanne, Switzerland.


Scientific investigations on the nature of the self have so far focused on high-level mechanisms. Recent evidence, however, suggests that low-level bottom-up mechanisms of multi-sensory integration play a fundamental role in encoding specific components of bodily self-consciousness, such as self-location and first-person perspective (Blanke and Metzinger, 2009). Self-location and first-person perspective are abnormal in neurological patients suffering from out-of-body experiences (Blanke et al., 2004), and can be manipulated experimentally in healthy subjects by imposing multi-sensory conflicts (Lenggenhager et al., 2009). Activity of the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) reflects experimentally induced changes in self-location and first-person perspective (Ionta et al., 2011), and dysfunctions in TPJ are causally associated with out-of-body experiences (Blanke et al., 2002). We argue that TPJ is one of the key areas for multi-sensory integration of bodily self-consciousness, that its levels of activity reflect the experience of the conscious "I" as embodied and localized within bodily space, and that these mechanisms can be systematically investigated using state of the art technologies such as robotics, virtual reality, and non-invasive neuroimaging.


body; multi-sensory integration; neuroscience robotics; self consciousness

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