Cortical midline structures and the self

Trends Cogn Sci. 2004 Mar;8(3):102-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2004.01.004.


For a long time philosophers and psychologists have been intrigued by the question of the self. More recently, this has become a topic of discussion in neuroscience. In this article, we suggest that the processing of self-referential stimuli in cortical midline structures (CMS) is a fundamental component in generating a model of the self. Drawing from neuroimaging studies, we distinguish between representation, monitoring, evaluation and integration of self-referential stimuli. All of these subfunctions are related to distinct regions within the CMS. This relationship between self-referential processing and CMS might provide novel insight into the neural correlates underlying the constitution of the self.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Awareness / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Concept Formation / physiology
  • Ego*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology