Evolutionary and developmental perspectives on visual self-recognition

[Speaker] Suddendorf, Thomas:1
[Co-author] Butler, David:1
1:University of Queensland (Australia)

Visual self-recognition is often controversially cited as an indicator of self-awareness. Here we highlight recent conceptual and methodological issues that are critical to understanding the phenomenon. Great apes and humans, unlike small apes have repeatedly passed the mirror test of self-recognition, suggesting that the underlying brain processes are homologous and evolved 14-18 million years ago. However, neuroscientific, developmental, and clinical dissociations show that the medium used to assess self-recognition significantly alters behavioral and brain responses, likely due to perceptual differences among the different media and prior experience. On the basis of this evidence and evolutionary considerations, we argue that the capacity for visual self-recognition in hominids is a byproduct of a general capacity to collate representations.
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