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Tagventral medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC)

Create yourself concept. Good looking young man drawing a picture, sketch of himself

Our Essential “I”ness … the Search for Its Address in the Brain

Does “I” — the first person singular — have or need a fixed address in the brain?

Neuroscience seems caught between a quest for the exact spot where self-awareness is generated and theorizing that self-awareness is really an illusion. A search for the spot in the brain that corresponds to “I” — as in Descartes’ famous formulation, “I think, therefore I am” begins with an assumption: That there is any such address in the brain. How is the search coming? Historically, we have located our sense of self in our hearts or heads. Both locations make sense, in different ways. Our hearts pound when we have strong feelings. As for our heads, it’s more complicated… When, in as-yet unpublished work, Christina Starmans and her colleagues showed people from the US and India pictures of flies circling around Read More ›

American staffordshire terrier dog with little kitten

Claim: A single brain region preserves our sense of self

No. We live in a strange world but it is not so strange as all that.

Neuroscientist Robert Martone tells us, A new study, published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience(SCAN), explores how a specific brain region helps knit together memories of the present and future self. Injury to that area leads to an impaired sense of identity. The region—called the ventral medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC)—may produce a fundamental model of our self and place it in mental time. In doing so, this study suggests, it may be the source of our sense of self. Robert Martone, “How Our Brain Preserves Our Sense of Self” at Scientific American Paper. This is nonsense, of course. A kitten has a sense of self if you try holding on to its tail. But so does a fly Read More ›