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Trends Cogn Sci. 2000 Sep;4(9):338-344.

Self-recognition and the right prefrontal cortex.

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  • 1Laboratory for Magnetic Brain Stimulation Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 330 Brookline Ave, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


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.

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