The Multisensory Bodily Self
Aspell Jane (Anglia Ruskin University)

February 19, 2015, 5:00pm - 7:00pm
Rethinking the Senses (AHRC project), Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London

Room 243
Second Floor, Senate House, Malet Street
London WC1E 7HU
United Kingdom


How does a brain generate a self? Growing evidence supports the theory that the most basic foundation of self-consciousness is the brain’s representation of the body. The brain receives a multisensory kaleidoscope of information about the body from both external (exteroceptive) and internal (interoceptive) sources and recent studies have examined how their integration may give rise to bodily self-consciousness. I will present a series of studies showing that basic aspects of self-consciousness – self-location, self-identification and tactile perception – can be modulated in healthy participants by inducing multisensory full body illusions with video-based virtual reality set-ups. These experiments demonstrate that the induction of both ‘purely exteroceptive’ (visuo-tactile) and extero-interoceptive (cardio-visual) conflicts can alter fundamental features of one’s experience of self. The results add to growing data suggesting that both internal and external body representations provide crucial contributions to bodily self-consciousness.

Jane Aspell read Biological Sciences at Oxford before studying for a PhD on the multisensory integration of visual and auditory motion signals at Newcastle, under the supervision of Anya Hurlbert. Following a three-year postdoc at Oxford in Oliver Braddick’s lab and a brief stint at Goldsmiths College, she joined Olaf Blanke’s team in EPFL, Switzerland and shifted her focus to bodily self-consciousness. Jane is currently Senior Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, and her current research investigates interoceptive contributions to the bodily self.

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