21In 1980, encephalitis which are caused by herpes simplex virus damaged the brain of a patient and left him not just with amnesia but also unable to live by his own. Regardless, the patient still functions normally. Meeting him for the first time as a lay person will leave you not thinking that the man has any problem. Researchers decided to test the level of self awareness of the patient by use of a battery and other tools including a mirror, tickling, photos, an onion, an interview and a personality assessment. As per their conclusion, the patient still has a very intact self awareness despite suffering a brain injury. This indicates that some parts of the brain which are thought to be very crucial when it comes to self awareness are really not.

An exception case of self awareness

Basically, self awareness is a very complex concept and neuroscientists have been debating greatly on exactly where it really arises from in the brain. There are some who argue that some parts of the brain are very important in generation of self awareness. Neuroscientists have advocated for various regions such as the insular cortex, believed to play a very critical role when it comes to self awareness. Then there is the anterior cingulated cortex which is implicated in emotional and body awareness and makes one recognized one’s own face as well as processing one’s conscious experience. There is the medial prefrontal cortex which is linked to the ability of person processing information about him/ her.

The illness of this patient had destroyed these brain regions almost completely. Using some brain imaging techniques, it was determined that some small tissue patches remained disconnected and defective from other parts of the brain.

An exception case of self awareness

The tests conducted on this patient showed an exception when it comes to brain awareness. The injuries suffered by the patient eliminated his senses of taste and smell. The patient is able to acknowledge his loss of memory albeit partially and sometimes describes himself to be a normal person only that he has a bad memory. But he doesn’t admit his loss of taste and smell. During the research, the researchers blind folded him and then offered a lemon and an onion or other odorless times that he was to smell. With it off, the patient claimed ability to smell them and explained that sight tends to make things easier.

The lead researcher, Feinstein said that the ability of a person to know his or her limitations is one of the aspects of self awareness. The researchers concluded that it is highly likely that the brain doesn’t have any single area devoted precisely to self awareness. This phenomenon which is very complex most likely results from interactions between different brain regions which are largely distributed.