Sense of body and sense of action both contribute to self-recognition

Cognition. 2002 Sep;85(2):177-87. doi: 10.1016/s0010-0277(02)00100-2.


Recognizing oneself, easy as it appears to be, seems at least to require awareness of one's body and one's actions. To investigate the contribution of these factors to self-recognition, we presented normal subjects with an image of both their own and the experimenter's hand. The hands could make the same, a different or no movement and could be displayed in various orientations. Subjects had to tell whether the indicated hand was theirs or not. The results showed that a congruence between visual signals and signals indicating the position of the body is one component on which self-recognition is based. Recognition of one's actions is another component. Subjects had most difficulty in recognizing their hand when movements were absent. When the two hands made different movements, subjects relied exclusively on the movement cue and recognition was almost perfect. Our findings are in line with pathological alterations in the sense of body and the sense of action.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Awareness*
  • Body Image*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kinesthesis*
  • Male
  • Recognition, Psychology*