A pattern theory of self

Shaun Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)
73 Downloads (Pure)


I argue for a pattern theory of self as a useful way to organize an interdisciplinary approach to discussions of what constitutes a self. According to the pattern theory, a self is constituted by a number of characteristic features or aspects that may include minimal embodied, minimal experiential, affective, intersubjective, psychological/cognitive, narrative, extended, and situated aspects. A pattern theory of self helps to clarify various interpretations of self as compatible or commensurable instead of thinking them in opposition, and it helps to show how various aspects of self may be related across certain dimensions. I also suggest that a pattern theory of self can help to adjudicate (or at least map the differences) between the idea that the self correlates to self-referential processing in the cortical midline structures of the brain and other narrower or wider conceptions of self.
Original languageEnglish
Article number443
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • self
  • pattern theory
  • first-person perspective
  • cortical midline structures


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