Functional and neural mechanisms of embodiment: importance of the vestibular system and the temporal parietal junction
Embodiment, the sense of being localized within one's physical body, is a fundamental aspect of the self. Recent research shows that self and body processing as well as embodiment require distinct brain mechanisms. Here, we review recent clinical and neuroimaging research on multisensory perception and integration as well as mental imagery, pointing out their importance for the coding of embodiment at the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ). Special reference is given to vestibular mechanisms that are relevant for self and embodiment and to methods that interfere experimentally with normal embodiment. We conclude that multisensory and vestibular coding at the TPJ mediates humans' experience as being embodied and spatially situated, and argue that pathologies concerning the disembodied self, such as out-of-body experience or other autoscopic phenomena, are due to deficient multisensory integration at the TPJ.