Every morning we wake up and regain consciousness — that is a marvelous fact — but what exactly is it that we regain? Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio uses this simple question to give us a glimpse into how our brains create our sense of self.
Antonio Damasio believes the sense of self originates in the region of the brain stem where internal states of the body are regulated. Because our internal states cannot deviate much without dire consequences, one can see how the ‘static self’ that we identify with may emerge in this area of the brain. As proof, when this area of the brain is damaged, the brain loses consciousness and enters into a persistant vegetable state. This certainly shows that it is necessary for the sense of self, but I think more research is needed before we can call it the physical origin of the self.