A draft program is provided below. We will publish a more detailed schedule here closer to the conference date.
Professor Frederique de Vignemont | Institut Jean-Nicod, Paris NYU/Paris
The Bodyguard hypothesis of the sense of bodily ownership
I feel the hand that is typing as my own but what grounds such a feeling? Here I will defend a reductionist approach, according to which the sense of ownership can be reduced to some specific properties of bodily experiences. But which properties? I will first discuss Martin’s (1993, 1995) conception, according to which the sense of bodily ownership finds its origin in the spatial awareness of the boundaries of one’s body. I will argue that such spatial awareness is not sufficient. I will then analyse whether the sense of bodily ownership can borrow, so to speak, its self-referentiality from the self-referentiality of agency. More specifically, one may suggest that the sense of bodily ownership is grounded in the sensorimotor representation of the body known as body schema. However, this agentive hypothesis faces a number of difficulties that cannot be solved without further refinements. In particular, I will argue that one needs to distinguish between two distinct kinds of body schema: the working body schema involved in instrumental actions, and the protective body schema involved in self-defence. I will then propose what may be conceived as an affective conception of the sense of bodily ownership, according to which the sense of bodily ownership consists in the awareness of the boundaries of one’s body as having a special significance for the self. This will lead me to define the phenomenology of ownership as a narcissistic feeling to file with other affective feelings such as the feeling of familiarity
Professor Matthew Longo | Birkbeck, University of London
Distorted body representations in healthy adults
Misperceptions and delusions about one’s own body are characteristic of numerous psychiatric and neurological conditions. Such phenomena have long fascinated researchers, in large part because of their sheer strangeness. Our body is so ubiquitous in our perceptual experience and so intimately known to us, it is difficult to imagine not having accurate knowledge of it. In this talk, I will discuss several recent experiments that have shown, in striking contrast to this intuition, that our brain maintains highly distorted representations of the body, used for perceptual tasks including position sense and tactile size perception.
Professor Jakob Hohwy | Monash University
Why should any body have a (real) self?
In a recent work, John Michael and I develop a realist position about the self: the self is real, it is a set of causes in the world forming part of a model generating predictions of sensory input. In this sense, the self is a self-model and, at the same time, a set of real causes. When set in the context of the free energy principle this proposal becomes particularly appealing because several subtle aspects of the self can then emerge. In this talk I explain and elaborate on our proposal. I connect it to agency and body representations, and explore possible relations to psychopathology and false inference. I also defend it against several recent criticisms and discuss it in the context of a broader debate about narrative accounts of the self.
Associate Professor Neeltje van Haren | UMC Brain Centre Rudolf Magnus, Utrecht
Self-agency experiences in schizophrenia
The feeling that we cause our own actions and resulting outcomes is natural to us. When I shout my friend’s name, he looks over his shoulder and laughs. It is clear my actions caused him to do so. Such experiences are fundamental for social communication and interaction, are usually automatic and need no attention. However, schizophrenia patients often experience no control over their behaviour and exhibit difficulties in distinguishing one’s own actions and outcomes from those of others. They hear voices speaking to them or feel their limbs being controlled by external sources. A friend looks over his shoulder because he thinks you smell, not because you called for him. In my lab we investigate the cognitive processes and brain areas that underlie self-agency and how self-agency relates to social functioning and schizophrenia symptoms. While, most studies on abnormal agency processing in schizophrenia patients initiated from the motor prediction model and have shown impairments herein. My lab was the first to administer a self-agency paradigm in this population that was based on non-motor or cognitive processes. In my talk, I will present our findings on agency processing, its clinical and functional implications, and neural correlates in patients with schizophrenia.