How are our self and its consciousness related to the spontaneous activity of the brain? A neuroscientific and neurophilosophical perspective

[Speaker] Northoff, Georg:1
1:University of Ottawa (Canada)

Self and consciousness are central mental features whose nature have long been discussed in philosophy. Recent studies aim to reveal their neural correlates. My talk focus will focus on recent imaging studies in both healthy and neurologic patients that suggest a central of the brain's spontaneous or intrinsic activity for self and consciousness. First I will show results about self-related processing and how it overlaps with and is predicted by the levels of spontaneous activity. Secondly, based on neurologic patients in vegetative state who lost their consciousness, I demonstrate that the spontaneous activity is also central for consciousness, specifically the level of consciousness. Taken together, these studies strongly suggest that both self and consciousness and most likely mental features in general are basic functions of the brain's spontaneous activity rather than being higher-order features related to cognitive functions.
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