David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Social and Personality Psychology Compass 2:1004-1012 (2011)
The present review of literature surveys two main issues related to self-referential processes: (1) Where in the brain are these processes located, and do they correlate with brain areas uniquely specialized in self-processing? (2) What are the empirical and theoretical links between inner speech and self-awareness? Although initial neuroimaging attempts tended to favor a right hemispheric view of selfawareness, more recent work shows that the brain areas which support self-related processes are located in both hemispheres and are not uniquely activated during self-reflective tasks. Furthermore, self-awareness at least partially relies on internal speech. An activation of Broca's area (which is known to sustain inner speech) is observed in a significant number of brain-imaging studies of self-reflection. Loss of inner speech following brain damage produces self-awareness deficits. Inner speech most likely can internally reproduce social mechanisms leading to self-awareness. Also, the process of self-reflection can be seen as being a problem-solving task, and self-talk as being a cognitive tool the individual uses to effectively work on the task. It is noted that although a large body of knowledge already exists on self-awareness, little is known about individual differences in dispositional self-focus and types of self-attention (e.g., rumination vs. self-reflection).
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