From multisensory integration in peripersonal space to bodily self-consciousness: from statistical regularities to statistical inference

Integrating information across sensory systems is a critical step toward building a cohesive representation of the environment and one's body, and as illustrated by numerous illusions, scaffolds subjective experience of the world and self. In the last years, classic principles of multisensory integration elucidated in the subcortex have been translated into the language of statistical inference understood by the neocortical mantle. Most importantly, a mechanistic systems-level description of multisensory computations via probabilistic population coding and divisive normalization is actively being put forward. In parallel, by describing and understanding bodily illusions, researchers have suggested multisensory integration of bodily inputs within the peripersonal space as a key mechanism in bodily self-consciousness. Importantly, certain aspects of bodily self-consciousness, although still very much a minority, have been recently casted under the light of modern computational understandings of multisensory integration. In doing so, we argue, the field of bodily self-consciousness may borrow mechanistic descriptions regarding the neural implementation of inference computations outlined by the multisensory field. This computational approach, leveraged on the understanding of multisensory processes generally, promises to advance scientific comprehension regarding one of the most mysterious questions puzzling humankind, that is, how our brain creates the experience of a self in interaction with the environment.

Published in:
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1426, 1, 146-165
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 Record created 2018-12-17, last modified 2018-12-19

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