The neural correlates of visual self-recognition

Conscious Cogn. 2011 Mar;20(1):40-51. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2010.09.007. Epub 2010 Sep 28.


This paper presents a review of studies that were aimed at determining which brain regions are recruited during visual self-recognition, with a particular focus on self-face recognition. A complex bilateral network, involving frontal, parietal and occipital areas, appears to be associated with self-face recognition, with a particularly high implication of the right hemisphere. Results indicate that it remains difficult to determine which specific cognitive operation is reflected by each recruited brain area, in part due to the variability of used control stimuli and experimental tasks. A synthesis of the interpretations provided by previous studies is presented. The relevance of using self-recognition as an indicator of self-awareness is discussed. We argue that a major aim of future research in the field should be to identify more clearly the cognitive operations induced by the perception of the self-face, and search for dissociations between neural correlates and cognitive components.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Awareness / physiology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Ego*
  • Face
  • Humans
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*