The trans-species core SELF: The emergence of active cultural and neuro-ecological agents through self-related processing within subcortical-cortical midline networks

Jaak Panksepp, Georg Northoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

77 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The nature of "the self" has been one of the central problems in philosophy and more recently in neuroscience. This raises various questions: (i) Can we attribute a self to animals? (ii) Do animals and humans share certain aspects of their core selves, yielding a trans-species concept of self? (iii) What are the neural processes that underlie a possible trans-species concept of self? (iv) What are the developmental aspects and do they result in various levels of self-representation? Drawing on recent literature from both human and animal research, we suggest a trans-species concept of self that is based upon what has been called a "core-self" which can be described by self-related processing (SRP) as a specific mode of interaction between organism and environment. When we refer to specific neural networks, we will here refer to the underlying system as the "core-SELF." The core-SELF provides primordial neural coordinates that represent organisms as living creatures-at the lowest level this elaborates interoceptive states along with raw emotional feelings (i.e., the intentions in action of a primordial core-SELF) while higher medial cortical levels facilitate affective-cognitive integration (yielding a fully-developed nomothetic core-self). Developmentally, SRP allows stimuli from the environment to be related and linked to organismic needs, signaled and processed within core-self structures within subcorical-cortical midline structures (SCMS) that provide the foundation for epigenetic emergence of ecologically framed, higher idiographic forms of selfhood across different individuals within a species. These functions ultimately operate as a coordinated network. We postulate that core SRP operates automatically, is deeply affective, and is developmentally and epigenetically connected to sensory-motor and higher cognitive abilities. This core-self is mediated by SCMS, embedded in visceral and instinctual representations of the body that are well integrated with basic attentional, emotional and motivational functions that are apparently shared between humans, non-human mammals, and perhaps in a proto-SELF form, other vertebrates. Such a trans-species concept of organismic coherence is thoroughly biological and affective at the lowest levels of a complex neural network, and culturally and ecologically molded at higher levels of neural processing. It allows organisms to selectively adapt to and integrate with physical and social environments. Such a psychobiologically universal, but environmentally diversified, concept may promote novel trans-species studies of the core-self across mammalian species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-215
Number of pages23
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009

Fingerprint

Ego
Aptitude
Social Environment
Body Image
Neurosciences
Self Concept
Epigenomics
Vertebrates
Mammals
Emotions

Keywords

  • Brain
  • Core-self
  • Ecological constraints
  • Emotions
  • Evolution
  • fMRI
  • Motivations
  • Self-referential processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

Cite this

@article{f74ac82417fd432898dab07822315c14,
title = "The trans-species core SELF: The emergence of active cultural and neuro-ecological agents through self-related processing within subcortical-cortical midline networks",
abstract = "The nature of {"}the self{"} has been one of the central problems in philosophy and more recently in neuroscience. This raises various questions: (i) Can we attribute a self to animals? (ii) Do animals and humans share certain aspects of their core selves, yielding a trans-species concept of self? (iii) What are the neural processes that underlie a possible trans-species concept of self? (iv) What are the developmental aspects and do they result in various levels of self-representation? Drawing on recent literature from both human and animal research, we suggest a trans-species concept of self that is based upon what has been called a {"}core-self{"} which can be described by self-related processing (SRP) as a specific mode of interaction between organism and environment. When we refer to specific neural networks, we will here refer to the underlying system as the {"}core-SELF.{"} The core-SELF provides primordial neural coordinates that represent organisms as living creatures-at the lowest level this elaborates interoceptive states along with raw emotional feelings (i.e., the intentions in action of a primordial core-SELF) while higher medial cortical levels facilitate affective-cognitive integration (yielding a fully-developed nomothetic core-self). Developmentally, SRP allows stimuli from the environment to be related and linked to organismic needs, signaled and processed within core-self structures within subcorical-cortical midline structures (SCMS) that provide the foundation for epigenetic emergence of ecologically framed, higher idiographic forms of selfhood across different individuals within a species. These functions ultimately operate as a coordinated network. We postulate that core SRP operates automatically, is deeply affective, and is developmentally and epigenetically connected to sensory-motor and higher cognitive abilities. This core-self is mediated by SCMS, embedded in visceral and instinctual representations of the body that are well integrated with basic attentional, emotional and motivational functions that are apparently shared between humans, non-human mammals, and perhaps in a proto-SELF form, other vertebrates. Such a trans-species concept of organismic coherence is thoroughly biological and affective at the lowest levels of a complex neural network, and culturally and ecologically molded at higher levels of neural processing. It allows organisms to selectively adapt to and integrate with physical and social environments. Such a psychobiologically universal, but environmentally diversified, concept may promote novel trans-species studies of the core-self across mammalian species.",
keywords = "Brain, Core-self, Ecological constraints, Emotions, Evolution, fMRI, Motivations, Self-referential processing",
author = "Jaak Panksepp and Georg Northoff",
year = "2009",
month = "3",
doi = "10.1016/j.concog.2008.03.002",
language = "English",
volume = "18",
pages = "193--215",
journal = "Consciousness and Cognition",
issn = "1053-8100",
publisher = "Academic Press Inc.",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The trans-species core SELF

T2 - The emergence of active cultural and neuro-ecological agents through self-related processing within subcortical-cortical midline networks

AU - Panksepp, Jaak

AU - Northoff, Georg

PY - 2009/3

Y1 - 2009/3

N2 - The nature of "the self" has been one of the central problems in philosophy and more recently in neuroscience. This raises various questions: (i) Can we attribute a self to animals? (ii) Do animals and humans share certain aspects of their core selves, yielding a trans-species concept of self? (iii) What are the neural processes that underlie a possible trans-species concept of self? (iv) What are the developmental aspects and do they result in various levels of self-representation? Drawing on recent literature from both human and animal research, we suggest a trans-species concept of self that is based upon what has been called a "core-self" which can be described by self-related processing (SRP) as a specific mode of interaction between organism and environment. When we refer to specific neural networks, we will here refer to the underlying system as the "core-SELF." The core-SELF provides primordial neural coordinates that represent organisms as living creatures-at the lowest level this elaborates interoceptive states along with raw emotional feelings (i.e., the intentions in action of a primordial core-SELF) while higher medial cortical levels facilitate affective-cognitive integration (yielding a fully-developed nomothetic core-self). Developmentally, SRP allows stimuli from the environment to be related and linked to organismic needs, signaled and processed within core-self structures within subcorical-cortical midline structures (SCMS) that provide the foundation for epigenetic emergence of ecologically framed, higher idiographic forms of selfhood across different individuals within a species. These functions ultimately operate as a coordinated network. We postulate that core SRP operates automatically, is deeply affective, and is developmentally and epigenetically connected to sensory-motor and higher cognitive abilities. This core-self is mediated by SCMS, embedded in visceral and instinctual representations of the body that are well integrated with basic attentional, emotional and motivational functions that are apparently shared between humans, non-human mammals, and perhaps in a proto-SELF form, other vertebrates. Such a trans-species concept of organismic coherence is thoroughly biological and affective at the lowest levels of a complex neural network, and culturally and ecologically molded at higher levels of neural processing. It allows organisms to selectively adapt to and integrate with physical and social environments. Such a psychobiologically universal, but environmentally diversified, concept may promote novel trans-species studies of the core-self across mammalian species.

AB - The nature of "the self" has been one of the central problems in philosophy and more recently in neuroscience. This raises various questions: (i) Can we attribute a self to animals? (ii) Do animals and humans share certain aspects of their core selves, yielding a trans-species concept of self? (iii) What are the neural processes that underlie a possible trans-species concept of self? (iv) What are the developmental aspects and do they result in various levels of self-representation? Drawing on recent literature from both human and animal research, we suggest a trans-species concept of self that is based upon what has been called a "core-self" which can be described by self-related processing (SRP) as a specific mode of interaction between organism and environment. When we refer to specific neural networks, we will here refer to the underlying system as the "core-SELF." The core-SELF provides primordial neural coordinates that represent organisms as living creatures-at the lowest level this elaborates interoceptive states along with raw emotional feelings (i.e., the intentions in action of a primordial core-SELF) while higher medial cortical levels facilitate affective-cognitive integration (yielding a fully-developed nomothetic core-self). Developmentally, SRP allows stimuli from the environment to be related and linked to organismic needs, signaled and processed within core-self structures within subcorical-cortical midline structures (SCMS) that provide the foundation for epigenetic emergence of ecologically framed, higher idiographic forms of selfhood across different individuals within a species. These functions ultimately operate as a coordinated network. We postulate that core SRP operates automatically, is deeply affective, and is developmentally and epigenetically connected to sensory-motor and higher cognitive abilities. This core-self is mediated by SCMS, embedded in visceral and instinctual representations of the body that are well integrated with basic attentional, emotional and motivational functions that are apparently shared between humans, non-human mammals, and perhaps in a proto-SELF form, other vertebrates. Such a trans-species concept of organismic coherence is thoroughly biological and affective at the lowest levels of a complex neural network, and culturally and ecologically molded at higher levels of neural processing. It allows organisms to selectively adapt to and integrate with physical and social environments. Such a psychobiologically universal, but environmentally diversified, concept may promote novel trans-species studies of the core-self across mammalian species.

KW - Brain

KW - Core-self

KW - Ecological constraints

KW - Emotions

KW - Evolution

KW - fMRI

KW - Motivations

KW - Self-referential processing

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=62749142574&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=62749142574&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.concog.2008.03.002

DO - 10.1016/j.concog.2008.03.002

M3 - Article

C2 - 18485741

AN - SCOPUS:62749142574

VL - 18

SP - 193

EP - 215

JO - Consciousness and Cognition

JF - Consciousness and Cognition

SN - 1053-8100

IS - 1

ER -