Viewing your own face, even subconsciously, is rewarding
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As humans, we each have a powerful ability to easily recognize our own faces. But now, researchers from Japan have uncovered new information about how our cognitive systems enable us to distinguish our own faces from those of others, even when the information is presented subliminally.

Researchers show that the ventral tegmental area, a center of the dopamine reward pathway, exhibited greater activation to subliminal presentations of the self-face than those of the others’ faces, whereas subliminal presentations of the others’ faces induced activation in the amygdala, which generally responds to unfamiliar information.

This self-other difference in brain response was consistently observed even when the facial configuration was modified without changing the shape of the facial parts.

The present findings suggest that the dopamine reward pathway is involved in automatic self-advantage in face processing, and the subliminal self-other facial discrimination does not depend on the information of the precise facial configuration.

Cerebral Cortex
Source: https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhab096
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