You aren’t one individual: Why your sense of self should be an phantasm

Now we have a robust sense of steady, coherent existence – but from the cells that make our our bodies to our defining character traits, we’re in a relentless state of change


9 December 2020

Every of us exhibits many differing faces over time

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Are you at all times the identical individual?

MY MOM typically jokes that it’s lucky she didn’t meet my dad when he was in faculty, as a result of she wouldn’t have preferred him. She was (and is) a self-described goody two footwear. Dad not a lot, however presumably even much less so when keg events had been concerned.

We all know that we alter over time. Our our bodies develop, then age; we mature and our views shift; our reminiscences sharpen and fade. But for many of us, our sense of self is seamless and steady. You’re the standard you, proper?

Let’s begin with the bodily. A few of our cells, notably neurons within the mind, are with us from earlier than start, and might stay greater than 100 years. “A lot of the nerve cells within the mind are literally as outdated as we’re,” says molecular biologist Jonas Frisén on the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

However most of our cells aren’t. Some, together with sure sorts of white blood cell, stay for under days. How shortly our pores and skin cells are replenished adjustments as we age, however normally it takes a couple of month. The notion that the liver regenerates each 40 days or so is a fantasy: our liver cells stay 200 to 300 days.

On the extent of atoms and molecules, in the meantime, we’re exchanging materials with the environment with abandon. Consider your physique like a grassy discipline, says Frisén. “It’s the identical garden from yr to yr, however every strand of grass is totally totally different.”

However what about much less tangible …

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