Neural correlates of the ‘Self’ and Implications for Neuro-psychotherapists
Dirk De Ridder
Self perception is a logical consequence of the brain’s main function, i.e. to reduce inherent uncertainty in a changing environment through predictive inference. “The self is the centralization of the predictive imperative”, and as such present in every living creature, albeit unconscious. Conscious self perception is present in many animals. From an evolutionary point of view the self in humans can be subdivided in 3 brain networks, the physical self, which is encoded by the somatomotor and insula network, the psychological self which overlaps with the medial default mode network (DMN) and the non-self or socially engaged self encoded by the lateral DMN.
Problems with the self are thus mostly related to dysfunctions of the DMN, as seen in dementias, gender dysphoria, autism, depression, schizophrenia and personality disorders.
The self and its pathologies can be influenced by psychedelic medication, invasive and non-invasive neuromodulation, and theoretically future treatments could consist of a combination of both.
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