There’s a nice article by Mo Costandi on the plasticity of the sense we have of being embodied selves. The article covers some of the same research that I discuss in Living as a River:
Who – or what – do you think you are? You probably think that your memories and personality are an important part of what you call your “self,” and you’d be right. But the core of your sense of self is something that you probably take completely for granted – your body.
Philosophers have always known about awareness of the body of the body is critical to the sense of self. In his 1739 book, A Treatise on Human Nature, for example, David Hume wrote, “When I enter into myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, or heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception.”
Hume clearly understood the importance of the body for the sense of self, as did various other philosophers who came later, and neuroscientists are now beginning to catch up with them. In the past 10 years, they have made big advances towards understanding the neurological basis of bodily awareness, revealing the mechanisms by which the brain makes – and can break – our sense of self-identity. Leaders in this area of research described their work today in a symposium held at the BNA Festival of Neuroscience…