The trans-species concept of self and the subcortical-cortical midline system

Georg Northoff, Jaak Panksepp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

192 Citations (Scopus)


The nature of the self has been one of the central problems in philosophy and most recently in neuroscience. Here, we suggest that animals and humans share a 'core self' represented in homologous underlying neural networks. We argue that the core self might be constituted by an integrative neuronal mechanism that enables self-related processing (SRP). Because mammalian organisms are capable of relating bodily states, intrinsic brain states (e.g. basic attentional, emotional and motivational systems) and environmental stimuli to various life-supporting goal-orientations, SRP appears to be a core ability preserved across numerous species. Recent data suggest that SRP is operating via a central integrative neural system made up of subcortical-cortical midline structures (SCMSs), that are homologous across mammalian species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-264
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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