Where am I? The neurological correlates of self and other

Steven M. Platek, Julian Paul Keenan, Gordon G. Gallup, Feroze B. Mohamed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

263 Scopus citations


Although still controversial, there is growing evidence that information about the self is processed in the right hemisphere, specifically the right frontal lobe. It has also been hypothesized that self-awareness and mental state attribution (inferences about the mental experience of others) are part of a similar neurocognitive process [Am. J. Primatol. 2 (1982) 237]. Here we measured blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) activity when viewing self-faces and when thinking about the mental states of others. We found significant activation in right superior, middle, and inferior frontal gyri when activation associated with self-face processing was compared with activation associated with familiar famous face processing. Mental state attribution, as measured by a computerized version of the Mind in the Eyes - Revised Test, was associated with activation in the right superior and middle frontal gyri, medial superior frontal gyrus, and left middle frontal gyrus and superior temporal gyrus/temporal pole. Self-face recognition and mental state attribution were colocalized to the middle and superior frontal gyri in the right hemisphere. These data support a model developed over two decades ago by Gallup [Am. J. Primatol. 2 (1982) 237] that posits that self-awareness and mental state attribution are part of a shared neurocognitive suite of processing and that neural architecture implicated in processing knowledge about the self is called upon when inferring knowledge in others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-122
Number of pages9
JournalCognitive Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2004


  • Cognition
  • Mental state attribution
  • Mind in the eyes
  • Neurol basis of behavior
  • Right hemisphere
  • Self-awareness
  • Self-face
  • Self-recognition
  • Theory of mind
  • fMRI


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