Fundamental principles and mechanisms of the conscious self

Alexei V. Samsonovich, Lynn Nadel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


We start by assuming that the self is implemented in the brain as a functional unit, with a definite set of properties. We deduce the fundamental properties of the self from an analysis of neurological disorders and from introspection. We formulate a functionalist concept of the self based on these properties reduced to constraints. We use the formalism of schemas in our functionalist analysis, i.e. a symbolic level description of brain dynamics. We then reformulate the functionalist model at a connectionist level and address the emergent "context shifting" problem. We suggest how the model might be mapped onto the functional neuroanatomy of the brain, and how it could be used to give an account of a range of neurological disorders, including hippocampal amnesia, various forms of schizophrenia, multiple personality, autism, PTSD, hemineglect, and reversible anosognosia. Finally, we briefly discuss future perspectives and possible applications of computer implementations of the model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)669-689
Number of pages21
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Contextual reinstatement
  • Episodic memory
  • Hippocampus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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