Essential functions of the human self model are implemented in the prefrontal cortex

Consciousness and Cognition 8 (3):343-363 (1999)
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The human self model comprises essential features such as the experiences of ownership, of body-centered spatial perspectivity, and of a long-term unity of beliefs and attitudes. In the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, it is suggested that clinical subsyndromes like cognitive disorganization and derealization syndromes reflect disorders of this self model. These features are neurobiologically instantiated as an episodically active complex neural activation pattern and can be mapped to the brain, given adequate operationalizations of self model features. In its unique capability of integrating external and internal data, the prefrontal cortex (PFC) appears to be an essential component of the neuronal implementation of the self model. With close connections to other unimodal association cortices and to the limbic system, the PFC provides an internally represented world model and internal milieu data of the organism, both serving world orientation. In the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, it is the dysfunction of the PFC that is suggested to be the neural correlate for the different clinical schizophrenic subsyndromes. The pathophysiological study of psychiatric disorders may contribute to the theoretical debate on the neuronal basis of the self model



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