Full-body illusions and minimal phenomenal selfhood

Trends Cogn Sci. 2009 Jan;13(1):7-13. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2008.10.003. Epub 2008 Dec 6.


We highlight the latest research on body perception and self-consciousness, but argue that despite these achievements, central aspects have remained unexplored, namely, global aspects of bodily self-consciousness. Researchers investigated central representations of body parts and actions involving these, but neglected the global and unitary character of self-consciousness, the 'I' of experience and behaviour. We ask, what are the minimally sufficient conditions for the appearance of a phenomenal self, that is, the fundamental conscious experience of being someone? What are necessary conditions for self-consciousness in any type of system? We offer conceptual clarifications, discuss recent empirical evidence from neurology and cognitive science and argue that these findings offer a new entry point for the systematic study of global and more fundamental aspects of self-consciousness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Image*
  • Consciousness*
  • Humans
  • Illusions*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Self Concept*