Selfhood triumvirate: From phenomenology to brain activity and back again

Consciousness and Cognition 86:103031 (2020)
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Abstract

Recently, a three-dimensional construct model for complex experiential Selfhood has been proposed (Fingelkurts et al., 2016b,c). According to this model, three specific subnets (or modules) of the brain self-referential network (SRN) are responsible for the manifestation of three aspects/features of the subjective sense of Selfhood. Follow up multiple studies established a tight relation between alterations in the functional integrity of the triad of SRN modules and related to them three aspects/features of the sense of self; however, the causality of this relation is yet to be shown. In this article we approached the question of causality by exploring functional integrity within the three SRN modules that are thought to underlie the three phenomenal components of Selfhood while these components were manipulated mentally by experienced meditators in a controlled and independent manner. Participants were requested, in a block-randomised manner, to mentally induce states representing either increased (up-regulation) or decreased (down-regulation) sense of (a) witnessing agency (“Self”), or (b) body representational-emotional agency (“Me”), or (c) reflective/narrative agency (“I”), while their brain activity was recorded by an electroencephalogram (EEG). This EEG-data was complemented by first-person phenomenological reports and standardised questionnaires which focused on subjective contents of three aspects of Selfhood. The results of the study strengthen the case for a direct causative relationship between three phenomenological aspects of Selfhood and related to them three modules of the brain SRN. Furthermore, the putative integrative model of the dynamic interrelations among three modules of the SRN has been proposed.

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Author's Profile

Andrew And Alexander Fingelkurts
BM-Science - Brain and Mind Technologies Research Centre

References found in this work

The Predictive Mind.Jakob Hohwy - 2013 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
Phenomenology of perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1945 - Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: The Humanities Press. Edited by Donald A. Landes.
The Phenomenological Mind.Shaun Gallagher & Dan Zahavi - 2008 - New York, NY: Routledge. Edited by Dan Zahavi.

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