Identity and modularity
news @ nature.com - Mind trick 'whittles the waist' - Illusion helps scientists to spot brain regions that shape our body image.
Scientists have harnessed a perceptual trick known as the 'Pinocchio illusion' to help pinpoint the brain regions that control how we view our bodies. They made the discovery by scanning the brains of volunteers experiencing the illusion, which involved stimulating their wrist tendons to make them feel thinner.
Of course, this relies on a very simplistic model of what it means for us to 'view our bodies' and more broadly to 'have a concept/image of self'. Just because a particular brain area is 'responsible' for creating a particular illusion about our body, it does not necessarily mean it is particularly relevant to storing information about our identity. It does bring up the question of modularity, though. Fodor would probably argue that this is just one more example of a cognitive process that works independently of the whole (embodied) system (in the sense that no amount of feedback from our knowledge of the world can change how we perceive a certain thing under certain conditions just like the process that causes us to see a stick is broken when immersed in water no matter how well we know it is not). But even if we accept the existence of these cognitive modules it still does not mean that this kind of modularity has much overall relevance to the way our mind works. It is a big leap (this article assumes and people like Chomsky or Pinker make explicitly) to claim that language, rational thought, etc. are independent modules (often subject to evolutionary pressures).