My face or yours? Event-related potential correlates of self-face processing

Helen Keyes, Nuala Brady, Richard B. Reilly, John J. Foxe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


The neural basis of self-recognition is mainly studied using brain-imaging techniques which reveal much about the localization of self-processing in the brain. There are comparatively few studies using EEG which allow us to study the time course of self-recognition. In this study, participants monitored a sequence of images, including 20 distinct images of their own face, a friend's face and a stranger's face articulating different speech sounds, while EEG was recorded from 64 scalp electrodes. Differences in the ERP waveforms were observed very early on, with increased N170 and VPP amplitude to self relative to both friend and stranger measured over posterior and fronto-central sites, respectively. This 'self effect' was also marked at ∼250 ms where P2/N2 amplitude was significantly reduced for self-faces. By comparison, differences between friend and stranger faces did not emerge until 250 ms and beyond, where a more conventional 'familiarity effect' was observed. The data also point to a 'less lateralized' representation of self over posterior sites. These findings are consistent with both behavioral and fMRI studies which suggest that self-face processing is 'special' and are discussed with reference to EEG studies of face processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-254
Number of pages11
JournalBrain and Cognition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • EEG
  • Event-related potentials
  • Face recognition
  • Self-face

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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