Elucidating the neural correlates of egoistic and moralistic self-enhancement

Veronica Barrios, Virginia S.Y. Kwan, Giorgio Ganis, Jaime Gorman, Jennifer Romanowski, Julian Paul Keenan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Self-enhancement is the biasing of one's view of oneself in a positive direction. The brain correlates of self-enhancement remain unclear though it has been reported that the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) may be important for producing self-enhancing responses. Previous studies have not examined whether the neural correlates of self-enhancement depend on the particular domain in which individuals are enhancing themselves. Both moralistic and egoistic words were presented to participants while transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was applied to the MPFC, precuneus or in a sham orientation. Participants were asked to make decisions as to the words describing themselves, some of which were positive and some of which were negative. It was found the MPFC TMS significantly disrupted egoistic self-enhancement when TMS was delivered to the MPFC. Judgments involving moralistic words were not influenced by TMS. These data provide further evidence that MPFC is involved in self-enhancement, and that the role of MPFC may be selective in this regard.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-456
Number of pages6
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • MPFC
  • Medial prefrontal cortex
  • Self-awareness
  • Self-deception
  • Self-enhancement
  • TMS
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation


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