Self-face evaluation and self-esteem in young females: An fMRI study using contrast effect

Hiraku Oikawa, Motoaki Sugiura, Atsushi Sekiguchi, Takashi Tsukiura, Carlos Makoto Miyauchi, Takashi Hashimoto, Teruko Takano-Yamamoto, Ryuta Kawashima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Self-evaluation is affected by facial attractiveness, particularly in females, and may be related to self-esteem. Self-face evaluation is relative to the attractiveness of others ("contrast effect"). In this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we examined both the neural correlates of self-face evaluation using the contrast effect and a neural relationship between self-face evaluation and self-esteem. We prepared the following three types of "target faces": one's own face (S), a close friend's face (F), and an unfamiliar face (O). They were randomly intermingled among same-sex unfamiliar foils during two block-types. Our intention was to evoke positive evaluations of target faces using unattractive foils in one block-type, and negative evaluations using attractive foils in the other. The posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and ventral tegmental area (VTA) exhibited greater activation from the positive modulation for S than for O. Activation in these regions was positively correlated with self-esteem and showed the same tendency between S and F. PCC and VTA, which have been implicated in the processing of self-relatedness and reward, respectively, might play a role in the processing of positive self-face evaluation as self-referential stimuli and social rewards, respectively. These results suggested that the PCC and the VTA are the neural correlates of positive self-face evaluation, and that there is a neural relationship between self-face evaluation and self-esteem. The positive evaluation of a close friend's face might be perceived and processed in the same way as one's own face.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3668-3676
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Feb 15


  • Attractiveness
  • Face
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Self-evaluation
  • Self-recognition
  • Social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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