Neuroscience of Bodily Self-Consciousness
We review recent research about human subjectivity and self-consciousness that has focused on cognitive psychology and neuroimaging of bodily self-consciousness. Multidisciplinary research on the fields of neurology, cognitive neuroscience and virtual reality opens new avenues to investigate brain mechanisms underlying a fundamental sense of the bodily self. Clinical evidence for the implication of right temporo-parietal junction for bodily self-consciousness has received support by studies in which virtual-reality based own body illusions are evoked in healthy participants to study the underlying processes. A series of experiments will be reviewed in which it was shown that the experiences of self-location, self-identification and the first-person perspective can be manipulated experimentally and rely on the integration of multisensory stimuli (touch, vision, proprioception, vestibular information). Specific protocols are available to predictably influence the different aspects of bodily self consciousness. We predict that the understanding of fundamental brain mechanisms of bodily self-consciousness will lead to unprecedented empirical insights that are of broad relevance for science, virtual reality, engineering, the humanities, as well as medicine and psychotherapy.