The nested neural hierarchy and the self

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In spite of enormous recent interest in the neurobiology of the self, we currently have no global models of the brain that explain how its anatomical structure, connectivity, and physiological functioning create a unified self. In this article I present a triadic neurohierarchical model of the self that proposes that the self can be understood as the product of three hierarchical anatomical systems: The interoself system, the integrative self system, and the exterosensorimotor system. An analysis of these three systems and their functional features indicates that the neural hierarchy possesses features of both non-nested and nested hierarchies that are necessary for the creation of a unified consciousness and self. These functional properties also make the central nervous system a biologically unique entity unlike anything else in nature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-15
Number of pages12
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Exterosensorimotor system
  • Integrative self system
  • Interoceptive
  • Interoself system
  • Nested neural hierarchy
  • Neuroanatomy of self


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