Is there a common issue in brain and self studies that appears over and again? Yes. That is the attempt to explain the unity, continuity, and adherence of our experience, whether it is sensory or mental. To address the unity, adherence, and continuity of experience is to address the place of the self in the brain. A major challenge to this effort is the fact that, though we tend to commonly address a static unit by calling it “self,” the self is a constantly emerging phenomenon as a result of its interaction with nature outside (social and biological) and the nurture inside (mind). In the process of its emergence the boundaries of the self seem to change, creating havoc for some (in the case of psychiatric challenges) and peace to others (in the case of spiritual experiences).
The brain is arguably the most important part of the human body studied to understand the working of sensation, emotion, and consciousness. The single unit of information and experience that connects sensation, emotion, and consciousness is agreed to be the “self”. There are two major streams of discussion on the self. Self is debated as a cognitive concept that helps tie the missing ends between the physical and psychological functions; and, the self is argued to be the locus of conscious experience. However different the arguments for these two positions are, it is agreed that human behaviours, attitudes and emotions are intricately tied to the neural structures on one side, and the indivisible experiential self on the other. Brain and self are the common threads that are used by neuropsychiatry, neuropharmacology, and philosophy to get some hold on one of the most intractable problems of humankind, namely, “consciousness.”
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