Benzon, William L.
First Person: Neuro-Cognitive Notes on the Self in Life and in Fiction
PSYART: A Hyperlink Journal for the Psychological Study of the Arts
August 21, 2000.


We can think of the self as the result of interaction between subcortical systems for regulating the global brain state and largely cortical systems for representing the current body state and autobiography. The personal pronoun system is at the interface between the cortical and subcortical systems. By constructing a network model for the pronoun system that is grounded in basic machinery for social interaction we show how the pronoun system allows speakers to achieve self-reference and how this capacity engenders the illusion of a unified self. The same model allows us to see that there is no essential difference between reliving incidents from one's own past and giving life to imaginary characters in ritual and in literary works. Such imaginative experience may play a role in maintaining the coherence of the self through different emotions.

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Maintained by Francis F. Steen, Communication Studies, University of California Los Angeles