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Cloettapreis_2012_Nr_40

16 Introduction Human adults experience a «real me» that «resides in my body» and is the subject or «I» of experience and thought. This is self-consciousness, the feeling that conscious experiences are bound to the self and belong to «somebody». It is this unitary entity, the «I», that is often considered to be one of the most astonishing features of the human mind. Recent ap- proaches to investigate self-consciousness have targeted brain mecha- nisms that process bodily signals (i.e. bodily self-consciousness)1-6,54 . The study of such bodily signals is complex as they are continuously present and updated and are conveyed by different senses as well as motor and visceral signals. Recent developments, however, using video, virtual ­reality and robotics technologies have allowed us to investigate the cen- tral mechanisms of bodily self-consciousness by providing subjects with ambiguous multisensory information about the location and appearance of their own body. In the present article I review three important aspects of bodily self-consciousness, how they relate to the processing of bodily signals, and which functional and neural mechanisms they may share: self-identification with the body (that is the experience of owning a body), self-location (that is the experience of where I am in space), and the first- person perspective (that is the experience from where I perceive the world). Altered states of bodily self-consciousness If you ever – while lying in bed and about to fall asleep – suddenly had the distinct impression of floating up near the ceiling and looking back down at your body on the bed, then it is likely that you had an out-of- body experience (OBE). Here is a description of an OBE by Sylvan Mul- doon, one of the first authors to describe his own OBEs (and those of ­others) in great detail: «I was floating in the very air, rigidly horizontal, a few feet above the bed […] I was moving toward the ceiling, horizon- tal and powerless […] I managed to turn around and there […] was an- other «me» lying quietly upon the bed» (from Muldoon & Carrington «The projection of the astral body» 1929).

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