Experiencing the self through touch

  • Tue 16 Mar 21

    14:00 - 15:00

  • Online


  • Event speaker

    Dr Rebecca Boehme

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars

  • Event organiser

    Psychology, Department of

  • Contact details

    Dr Giulia Poerio

The clearest experience of the self and its physical borders is the experience of being touched. It is also the earliest sensory experience of the self.

Touch is crucial for the sensation of having a body and for learning how to distinguish between self and other. The sense of self is disturbed in many psychiatric disorders, e.g. schizophrenia, dissociative disorders, autism, and anorexia.

In this seminar, Dr Rebecca Boehme will discuss her studies in neurotypical participants and people with psychiatric diagnoses (ADHD, autism, anorexia, schizophrenia). We use self-touch and affective touch by others during functional brain imaging to understand how we differentiate between self and other, and how dysfunctions of this process can contribute to an altered sense of self. While studies found a sharpened shelf-other-distinction in ADHD (Boehme et al., 2020), we expect to find a decreased distinction between self- and other-touch-signals in anorexia and schizophrenia (studies ongoing).

Symptoms in the self-domain are currently not the focus of available treatment options, and since seldom addressed, they often persist. Dr Boehme will propose that detailed insights into mechanisms of tactile self-other-distinction will further our understanding of how a sense of self is established and might offer innovative treatment options for the symptom domain of self-related dysfunction.


Dr Rebecca Boehme is an Assistant Professor at Linköping University.

How to attend

This seminar will be held on Zoom. To receive a Zoom link please email Dr Giulia Poerio (g.poerio@essex.ac.uk) or Dr Matteo Lisi (m.lisi@essex.ac.uk) with the date and title of the seminar you wish to attention.

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