Neural basis of self-face recognition: Social aspects

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Considering the importance of the face in social survival and evidence from evolutionary psychology of visual self-recognition, it is reasonable that we expect neural mechanisms for higher social-cognitive processes to underlie self-face recognition. A decade of neuroimaging studies so far has, however, not provided an encouraging finding in this respect. Self-face specific activation has typically been reported in the areas for sensory-motor integration in the right lateral cortices. This observation appears to reflect the physical nature of the self-face which representation is developed via the detection of contingency between one's own action and sensory feedback. We have recently revealed that the medial prefrontal cortex, implicated in socially nuanced self-referential process, is activated during self-face recognition under a rich social context where multiple other faces are available for reference. The posterior cingulate cortex has also exhibited this activation modulation, and in the separate experiment showed a response to attractively manipulated self-face suggesting its relevance to positive self-value. Furthermore, the regions in the right lateral cortices typically showing self-face-specific activation have responded also to the face of one's close friend under the rich social context. This observation is potentially explained by the fact that the contingency detection for physical self-recognition also plays a role in physical social interaction, which characterizes the representation of personally familiar people. These findings demonstrate that neuroscientific exploration reveals multiple facets of the relationship between self-face recognition and social-cognitive process, and that technically the manipulation of social context is key to its success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-760
Number of pages8
JournalBrain and Nerve
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jul


  • Face
  • Imaging
  • Physical
  • Self
  • Social


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