Temporal continuity of self: Long autocorrelation windows mediate self-specificity

David Smith, Annemarie Wolff, Angelika Wolman, Julia Ignaszewski, Georg Northoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The self is characterized by an intrinsic temporal component consisting in continuity across time. On the neural level, this temporal continuity manifests in the brain's intrinsic neural timescales (INT) that can be measured by the autocorrelation window (ACW). Recent EEG studies reveal a relationship between resting state ACW and self-consciousness. However, it remains unclear whether ACW exhibits different degrees of task-related changes during self-specific compared to non-self-specific activities. To this end, participants in our study initially recorded an eight-minute autobiographical narrative. Following a resting-state session, participants were presented with their own narrative and the narrative of a stranger while undergoing concurrent EEG recording. Behaviorally, subjects evaluated both of the narratives and indicated their perceptions of positivity or negativity on a moment-to-moment basis by positioning a cursor relative to the center of the computer screen. Our results indicate: (a) greater spatial extension and velocity in the behavioral cursor movement during the self narrative assessment compared to the non-self narrative assessment; and (b) longer neural ACWs in response to the self- compared to the non-self narrative and rest. These findings demonstrate the importance of longer temporal windows in neural activity measured by ACW for self-specificity. More broadly, the results highlight the relevance of temporal continuity for the self on the neural level. Such temporal continuity may, correspondingly, also manifest on the psychological level as a "common currency" between brain and self.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119305
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 15 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Autocorrelation window
  • Electroencephalography
  • Intrinsic neural timescales
  • Self
  • Temporal continuity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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