Forgive me for lacking rigor, but if what I know is correct, it is established that consciousness and other higher functions characteristic of humans are a consequence of our cortex, specifically neocortex. However, what has always puzzled me is the neurobiological basis that gives rise to the phenomenon that we associate our bodies with ourselves – i.e., why does my brain think of my physical body as "me" and make me care for it? In other words, why is me me at this particular point in time and not some other body living e.g. centuries ago? Why do I not associate "me" with multiple bodies living at the same time, or have identity at all?
A naive, materialist answer would perhaps be that given our nervous system etc., "me" is only a sort of an illusion created by the brain which acts as a kind of "least thinkable unit" that has no neural connections to other physical bodies. Still, what is the process that "picks" precisely my brain and my body to become "me" – why have I not sensed reality from the viewpoint of e.g. Albert Einstein or Brad Pitt?
I wonder if any empirical answers to such questions can be given, or at least if these questions have been reformulated to a set of more well-defined questions in the light of modern neuroscience.
UPDATE: A better way to form this question would be: if two bodies come to exist at the same time, and consciousness is an emergent, materialistic phenomenon of the body, why do I experience the emergence of consciousness in one specific body (i.e. the one I call my own) and not in another?