How to Link Brain and Experience? Spatiotemporal Psychopathology of the Lived Body

Georg Northoff, Giovanni Stanghellini

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    46 Citations (Scopus)


    The focus of the present article is on sketching a psychopathology of the body in schizophrenia and linking it to brain activity. This is done providing converging data from psychopathological evidence (phenomenal), phenomenological contructs (trans-phenomenal) and neuroscientific measures (pre-phenomenal). The phenomenal level is the detailed documentation of the patients’ subjective anomalous experiences. These phenomena are explicit contents in the patients’ field of consciousness. The trans-phenomenal level targets the implicit yet operative matrix that underlies these anomalous subjective experiences. Abnormal phenomena are viewed as expressions of a modification of trans-phenomenal matrix, that is, in terms of an abnormal synthesis or integration through time of intero-, proprio- and extero-ceptive stimuli. Finally, we link the abnormalities of the trans-phenomenal matrix to pre-phenomenal alterations of the brain resting state and of its spatio-temporal organization, as documented by neurobiological methods providing spatial and temporal resolution of intrinsic brain activity (with many features of the resting state remaining yet unclear though). Based on phenomenological research, the body in schizophrenia is typically experienced in an itemized way as an object external to one’s self and unrelated to events in the external world. Based on neurobiological data, we tentatively hypothesize that such anomalies of the lived body are related to decreased integration between intero-, extero- and proprioceptive experiences by the brain’s spontaneous activity and its temporal structure. Taken all together, this suggests that we view abnormalities of bodily experience in terms of their underlying abnormal spatiotemporal features which, as we suppose, can be traced back to the spatiotemporal features of the brain’s spontaneous activity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number76
    JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 28 2016


    • abnormal bodily phenomena
    • brain resting state
    • phenomenology
    • schizophrenia
    • spatio-temporal psychopathology

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
    • Neurology
    • Psychiatry and Mental health
    • Biological Psychiatry
    • Behavioral Neuroscience


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