Self-recognition and the right prefrontal cortex

Julian Paul Keenan, Mark A. Wheeler, Gordon G. Gallup, Alvaro Pascual-Leone

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

266 Scopus citations


Although the anatomical and functional substrates subserving face recognition have been subject to extensive investigation, the underpinnings of self-face recognition are not well understood. Given the evidence that own-face recognition has been demonstrated by a select number of species, it is intriguing to speculate whether self-face recognition is accomplished via a 'self-network' or simply a 'face-network' within the brain. Furthermore, the relationship of self-recognition to other self-processes, such as self- evaluation and autobiographical retrieval, are not clearly defined. However, data from fMRI, ERPs and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation as well as from split-brain studies and patients with focal lesions, indicate that the prefrontal cortex, with possible right hemisphere lateralization, may be a preferential component in self-recognition. Studies using these methods, as well as PET, have indicated that the self-processes of self-evaluation and autobiographical memory preferentially engage networks within the right fronto-temporal region. Although it is highly improbable that there is a 'self-recognition' or 'self' center, it appears that there may be a bias for the processing of 'self' within the right prefrontal cortex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-344
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2000


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