Have you ever asked yourself when you started knowing that a tree is a tree, or a desk is a desk? Have you ever wondered when you started distinguishing yourself from other living things (such as knowing that you are not that tree in your backyard, but you are you, a person, not a plant)? Do you know when you became aware of yourself?
In the video "BBC Horizon - The Secret You" featuring Marcus de Sautoy, the question is answered. An experiment in the video that I personally find interesting is called "The Mirror/Self Recognition Test" gives us an idea for when we become aware of ourselves. In the video, the experiment starts out with a 16 month old child, who is having his "nose wiped" by his parent, who is actually putting a small dot of paper on the child's cheek. The child is then placed in front of a large mirror. De Sautoy explains that if the child "knows who he is" then he will notice the dot and know it's on his cheek. Even though the child was clearly looking at himself in the mirror, he didn't take the dot off of his cheek, thus modeling the theory of humans not having self awareness at 1 year and 4 months (Reddy & Sautoy, 2009).
Next was a 22 month old girl. When the dot was placed on her cheek, she took it off when looking in the mirror. This suggests that at 22 months, we are aware of ourselves, and that between ages 18 and 24 months, we become aware of ourselves (Reddy & Sautoy, 2009).
I have always wondered when I have become aware of myself, but this evidence that I saw in the video still does not answer the question of how I become aware of myself. Is the "how" due to developmental process in the brain? Obviously, but to what extent? How do these things develop?
And now I'm second-guessing myself, and thinking that these may be stupid questions! What do you guys think? (Sorry, I know this blog is about when, but I'm really interested in how).
LINK TO VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Biv_8xjj8E (between 3:30 minutes and 12:30 minutes)