The experience of self is unique and pivotal to clinically relevant cognitive and emotional functions. However, well-controlled data on specialized brain regions and functional networks underlying the experience of self remain limited. This functional magnetic resonance imaging study investigated neural activity and connectivity specific to processing one's own face in healthy women by examining neural responses to the pictures of the subjects' own faces in contrast to faces of their own mothers, female friends and strangers during passive viewing, emotional and self-relevance evaluations. The processing of one's own face in comparison to processing of familiar faces revealed significant activity in right anterior insula (AI) and left inferior parietal lobule (IPL), and less activity in right posterior cingulate/precuneus (PCC/PCu) across all tasks. Further, the seed-based correlation analysis of right AI, and left IPL, showed differential functional networks in self and familiar faces contrasts. There were no differences in valence and saliency ratings between self and familiar others. Our preliminary results suggest that the self-experience cued by self-face is processed predominantly by brain regions and related networks that link interoceptive feelings and sense of body ownership to self-awareness and less by regions of higher order functioning such as autobiographical memories.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Psychiatry and Mental health