Recognising one's own face

Tilo T.J. Kircher, Carl Senior, Mary L. Phillips, Philip J. Benson, Edward T. Bullmore, Sophia Rabe-Hesketh, Mick J. Brammer, Andrew Simmons, Mathias Bartels, Anthony S. David

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report two studies of facial self-perception using individually tailored, standardized facial photographs of a group of volunteers and their partners. A computerized morphing procedure was used to merge each target face with an unknown control face. In the first set of experiments, a discrimination task revealed a delayed response time for the more extensively morphed self-face stimuli. In a second set of experiments, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to measure brain activation while subjects viewed morphed versions of either their own or their partner's face, alternating in blocks with presentation of an unknown face. When subjects viewed themselves (minus activation for viewing an unknown face), increased blood oxygenation was detected in right limbic (hippocampal formation, insula, anterior cingulate), left prefrontal cortex and superior temporal cortex. In the partner (versus unknown) experiment, only the right insula was activated. We suggest that a neural network involving the right hemisphere in conjunction with left-sided associative and executive regions underlies the process of visual self-recognition. Together, this combination produces the unique experience of self-awareness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)B1-B15
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2001


  • face recognition
  • self-concept
  • self-perception
  • reaction time
  • functional imaging


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