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Vestibular and multisensory investigations of bodily self-consciousness (BODILYSELF)
Start date: Oct 1, 2013, End date: Sep 30, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Despite recent neuroscientific efforts to study the mechanisms of consciousness, self-consciousness has received much less attention as it is difficult to approach empirically. However, it has been argued that self-consciousness relies on several bodily experiences, and that the investigation of the sensory and neural mechanisms involved in these bodily experiences is crucial for the understanding of self-consciousness. Bodily experiences that seem necessary for the self comprise first-person perspective taking, embodied self-location, and the sense of ownership of the body and body parts. Multisensory processing has been proven to be of key importance for bodily experiences and the self, although research has focused mostly on the contribution of visual and somatosensory signals. The investigation of vestibular signals has received much less attention despite its key importance in coding whole-body motion and orientation in space. The BODILYSELF Project plans to investigate vestibular contributions to whole-body experiences, in particular self-location, first-person perspective taking and self-other distinction and mirroring. For this, vestibular physiology will be linked with neuroimaging and cognitive science of the self. We will use artificial stimulation of the vestibular system (galvanic vestibular stimulation) and multisensory conflicts – in combination with electroencephalography and fMRI – to explore the mechanisms of bodily self-consciousness. The strength and novelty of the BODILYSELF Project lies in joining approaches from cognitive neuroscience, vestibular physiology and oto-neurology, in collaboration with a philosopher of mind, for a common goal. This may lead to findings that are relevant across research fields in the cognitive neurosciences of the self, philosophy of mind, neurology and oto-neurology."
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