Involvement of the intrinsic/default system in movement-related self recognition
The question of how people recognize themselves and separate themselves from the environment and others has long intrigued philosophers and scientists. Recent findings have linked regions of the 'default brain' or 'intrinsic system' to self-related processing. We used a paradigm in which subjects had to rely on subtle sensory-motor synchronization differences to determine whether a viewed movement belonged to them or to another person, while stimuli and task demands associated with the "responded self" and "responded other" conditions were precisely matched. Self recognition was associated with enhanced brain activity in several ROIs of the intrinsic system, whereas no differences emerged within the extrinsic system. This self-related effect was found even in cases where the sensory-motor aspects were precisely matched. Control conditions ruled out task difficulty as the source of the differential self-related effects. The findings shed light on the neural systems underlying bodily self recognition.