The role of self-touch experience in the formation of the self

The Development of the Self Workshop at IEEE ICDL-EpiRob 2017 (2017)
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The human self has many facets: there is the physical body and then there are different concepts or representations supported by processes in the brain such as the ecological, social, temporal, conceptual, and experiential self. The mechanisms of operation and formation of the self are, however, largely unknown. The basis is constituted by the ecological or sensorimotor self that deals with the configuration of the body in space and its action possibilities. This self is prereflective, prelinguistic, and initially perhaps even largely independent of visual inputs. Instead, somatosensory (tactile and proprioceptive) information both before and after birth may play a key part. In this paper, we propose that self-touch experience may be a fundamental mechanisms to bootstrap the formation of the sensorimotor self and perhaps even beyond. We will investigate this from the perspectives of phenomenology, developmental psychology, and neuroscience. In light of the evidence from fetus and infant development, we will speculate about the possible mechanisms that may drive the formation of first body representations drawing on self-touch experience.
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Archival date: 2017-12-21
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