The human self has two serial aspects and is dynamic: A concept based on neurophysiological evidence supporting a multiple aspects self theory (MAST)

Peter Walla, Georg Northoff, Cornelia Herbert

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The self is an increasingly central topic in current neuroscience. Understanding the neural processes that are involved in self-referential processing and functioning may also be crucial to understanding consciousness. The current short communication goes beyond the typical concept that the self is singular, as has been assumed from neuroanatomical descriptions of the self by fMRI and PET studies. Long ago, theoretically, the idea of multiple aspects of the human self-arose, highlighting a dynamic organizational structure, but an increasing number of electrophysiological brain imaging studies, searching for the temporal dynamics of self-referential brain processes, now has empirical evidence supporting their existence. This short communication focuses on the theoretical idea of a dynamic self and provides first preliminary empirical evidence, including results from own studies of the authors, in support of, and highlights the serial dynamics of the human self, suggesting a primitive Me1 and an elaborate Me2 (a non-personal and a personal self). By focusing on the temporal dimension of the self, we propose that multiple aspects of the self can be distinguished based on their temporal sequence. A multiple aspects Self Theory (MAST) is proposed. This model is meant as a theoretical framework for future studies providing further support.

Original languageEnglish
Article number611
JournalLife
Volume11
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Brain imaging
  • EEG
  • Me1 and Me2
  • Multiple aspects
  • Neurobiology
  • Neuroscience
  • Self
  • Self-referential processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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