Who is That in the Mirror?

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When do we become self aware and how do we become self aware? When do we begin to realize who we are? In a BBC documentary Oxford mathematician Marcus de Sautoy became a guinea pig to answer questions like this. The first question he wanted to answer when do we become aware of ourselves? He visited a specialist, that conducts a mirror self recognition test. The mirror test looks at the ability of a baby to recognize itself in the mirror. It is a fascinating test in which a baby looks at itself in the mirror and then the parent will pretend to wipe the child's nose and a sticker is placed on its check. The theory is that if the baby knows who he/she is, they will immediately move to touch the sticker on its cheek. What they have found in conducting this test is that the development of self recognition occurs between the age of 18-24 months. The mirror recognition test is a very interesting test and it would be interesting to look at the accuracy of this test. Does the baby touch the sticker on his/her face because they can feel it or because they actually notice that there is something different about their face. How the development of self-consciousness occurs is still unknown.

Another question that Marcus had was whether or not animals are aware of themselves. The mirror self recognition test was originally developed for the purpose of answering this question, with the main animal of interest being chimpanzees. What was found in testing hundreds of species is that the only species to past the test are chimpanzees, orangutans, and humans. This is a fascinating discovery because though we know that our brains are different than animals it also shows that we are more aware of ourselves than other animals. The Documentary "The Secret You" addresses other questions such as where does consciousness reside and whether someone still has conscious awareness.


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This page contains a single entry by pete6349 published on October 9, 2011 10:58 AM.

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