The Special Brain: Subclinical Grandiose Narcissism and Self-Face Recognition in the Right Prefrontal Cortex

Rachel Kramer, Kelly Duran, Heather Soder, Lisa Applegate, Amel Youssef, Matthew Criscione, Julian Paul Keenan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Though debated, it has been argued that self-face recognition is an indicator of consciousness of self typically called self-awareness. Evidence from behavioral and neuronal studies suggests that self-recognition is associated with activation in the right prefrontal cortex (PFC). Although previous studies have examined neurological correlates of deficits in self-recognition (e.g., autism, schizophrenia), the current study attempted to examine neurological correlates of inflated self-focus. Thus, this study used transcranial magnetic stimulation to assess neurological correlates of self-recognition in different regions of the PFC and to assess whether narcissistic personality traits would be correlated with reaction time (RT) among 11 healthy participants. It was found that RT for self-face identification was positively correlated with narcissistic personality traits (p = .034). It was also found that the interaction between brain region and RT for self-faces was significant after narcissism was controlled for, demonstrating an association between narcissistic traits and self-recognition (p = .036). The results support previous research indicating the right PFC is necessary for self-face recognition. Furthermore, increases in narcissistic traits decreased self-recognition RT, and self-recognition appeared to be mediated via right PFC regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-500
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020


  • TMS
  • narcissism
  • right PFC
  • self-awareness
  • self-recognition


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