This article is part of the Research Topic Aftereffects in face processing

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 07 March 2012 | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00066

Shared or separate mechanisms for self-face and other-face processing? Evidence from adaptation

Brendan Rooney1, Helen Keyes2* and Nuala Brady1
  • 1 School of Psychology, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2 Department of Psychology, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK

Evidence that self-face recognition is dissociable from general face recognition has important implications both for models of social cognition and for our understanding of face recognition. In two studies, we examine how adaptation affects the perception of personally familiar faces, and we use a visual adaptation paradigm to investigate whether the neural mechanisms underlying the recognition of one’s own and other faces are shared or separate. In Study 1 we show that the representation of personally familiar faces is rapidly updated by visual experience with unfamiliar faces, so that the perception of one’s own face and a friend’s face is altered by a brief period of adaptation to distorted unfamiliar faces. In Study 2, participants adapted to images of their own and a friend’s face distorted in opposite directions; the contingent aftereffects we observe are indicative of separate neural populations, but we suggest that these reflect coding of facial identity rather than of the categories “self” and “other.”

Keywords: self-face, familiar face, adaptation, personal familiarity

Citation: Rooney B, Keyes H and Brady N (2012) Shared or separate mechanisms for self-face and other-face processing? Evidence from adaptation. Front. Psychology 3:66. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00066

Received: 01 October 2011; Accepted: 19 February 2012;
Published online: 07 March 2012.

Edited by:

Peter James Hills, Anglia Ruskin University, UK

Reviewed by:

Avniel S. Ghuman, University of Pittsburgh, USA
Claus-Christian Carbon, University of Bamberg, Germany

Copyright: © 2012 Rooney, Keyes and Brady. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Helen Keyes, Department of Psychology, Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge CB1 1PT, UK. e-mail:

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