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Title: Where is my Mind? Separating the Self from the Body through Perspective Taking
Authors: de Boer, Debbie M.L.
Johnston, Patrick J.
Kerr, Graham
Meinzer, Marcus
Cleeremans, Axel
Issue Date: 18-Aug-2020
Publisher: PsychArchives
Abstract: Recent theories suggest that self-consciousness, in its most elementary form, is separate from the own body. Patients with psychosis frequently misattribute their thoughts and actions to external sources; and in certain out-of-body experiences, lucid states, and dreams body-ownership is absent but self-identification is preserved. We hypothesized that self-identification depends on inferring self-location at the right Angular Gyrus (perspective-taking). This process relates to the discrimination of self-produced signals (endogenous attention) from environmental stimulation (exogenous attention). We combined a Full-body Illusion paradigm with brain stimulation (HD-tDCS) and found a clear causal association between right Angular Gyrus activation and alterations in self-location (perspective-taking). Anodal versus sham HD-tDCS resulted in: a more profound out-of-body shift (with reduced sense-of-agency); and a weakened ability to discriminate self from other perspectives. We conclude that self-identification is mediated in the brain by inferring self-location (perspective-taking). Self-identification can be decoupled from the bodily self, explaining phenomena associated with disembodiment.
Citation: De Boer, D. M. L., Johnston, P. J., Kerr, G., Meinzer, M., & Cleeremans, A. (2020). Where is my Mind? Separating the Self from the Body through Perspective Taking. PsychArchives.
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