Georg Northoff, MD, MA, PhD, EJLB-CIHR Michael Smith Chair in Neurosciences and Mental Health, Canada Research Chair for Mind, Brain Imaging and Neuroethics, Institute of Mental Health Research, University of Ottawa Website | Publications
Abstract: The self is central to our experience and consciousness of our environment including its cultural differences. Most recently studies highlighted the neuronal mechanisms underlying our sense of self. These show strong involvement of cortical midline structures and close overlap between self and resting state activity. The contribution discusses these findings and how they are mediated by cultural differences and what this implies for the concept of self.
Bio: Georg Northoff completed his initial training in medicine/psychiatry and philosophy in Germany. Dr. Northoff’s previous academic positions included Professorships at the University of Magdeburg, Germany, and Harvard University, U.S.A. With over 100 scientific publications, his current focus is predominantly on the self – having developed the concept of cortical midline structures. Experimental research within his unit focuses on the functional and biochemical mechanisms underlying our sense of self in both healthy subjects and psychiatric patients.
In addition to neuroimaging, he also focuses on neuroethical issues. Early on, he investigated issues related to personal identity in patients with deep brain stimulation and brain tissue transplantation. Another neuroethical focus is on the impact of emotions and empathy in the decision making involved in informed consent, which is of particular relevance regarding psychiatric patients.
These issues converge nicely with his deep standing interest in the discipline of neurophilosophy. He is considered one of the main founders from the European-continental side, as is illustrated by several papers and books including “Philosophy of the Brain” (John Benjamins, 2004).
Dr. Northoff is also the author of “Neuropsychoanalysis: Brain, Self and Objects (Oxford, 2011) and the forthcoming “Unlocking the Brain” (Oxford, 10/2012), as well as “Die Fahndung nach dem Ich: Eine neurophilosophische Kriminalgeschichte” (“The Search for the Ego: A Neurophilosophical Mystery Novel”) (Random House GmbH, 2009), in which he frames the latest neuroscientific results and neurophilsophical reflections on the self into the framework of a mystery novel for a general audience.