What parts of our brain are activated when we think about ourselves from the perspective of other people?
The ability to see ourselves the way others see us (what we commonly refer to as self-awareness) requires simultaneously thinking about ourselves and about other people.
This process is complicated by whether or not those others are important to us or not, and whether our perceptions of their judgments (good or bad) result in emotional reactions such as feeling proud, or self-conscious/embarrassed.
There has been a tremendous amount of scientific research in recent years investigating the correlation between the prefrontal areas of the brain and various aspects of the psychological self* – particularly self-related thought processes and behavioral control. (*Note: a distinction is being made here between the neurological underpinnings and functions of the psychological self and the experience of Self as aware presence, in this instance, the “witness” or “observer” of the psychological self.)
Other lines of research are venturing into the exploration of brain functions associated with experiences of self-expansion and hypo-egoic mindsets (the experience of Self beyond or without ego.)
Applying the scientific method to this area is challenging, yet interesting. At this juncture it involves investigation of how biochemical and bioelectrical activity in living tissue (brain matter) gives rise to subjective experience and self-awareness.
Understanding the nature of consciousness itself appears to be a requirement for a fuller understanding of the psychological self.
It is likely that the answer will ultimately require a paradigm shift in how scientists think about the relationship between biological processes and personal experience, as well as a fuller understanding of the relationship between consciousness as living presence and the psychological self as a product of self-referential thought processes.
The seer and the seen. Awareness and thoughts. Self and self-image.
Both exist and both are important.