Re-cognizing the new self: The neurocognitive plasticity of self-processing following facial transplantation

Ruben T Azevedo, J Rodrigo Diaz-Siso, Allyson R Alfonso, Elie P Ramly, Rami S Kantar, Zoe P Berman, Gustave K Diep, William J Rifkin, Eduardo D Rodriguez, Manos Tsakiris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The face is a defining feature of our individuality, crucial for our social interactions. But what happens when the face connected to the self is radically altered or replaced? We address the plasticity of self-face recognition in the context of facial transplantation. While the acquisition of a new face following facial transplantation is a medical fact, the experience of a new identity is an unexplored psychological outcome. We traced the changes in self-face recognition before and after facial transplantation to understand if and how the transplanted face gradually comes to be perceived and recognized as the recipient's own new face. Neurobehavioral evidence documents a strong representation of the pre-injury appearance pre-operatively, while following the transplantation, the recipient incorporates the new face into his self-identity. The acquisition of this new facial identity is supported by neural activity in medial frontal regions that are considered to integrate psychological and perceptual aspects of the self.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2211966120
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2023


  • Facial Transplantation
  • Face
  • Facial Recognition
  • Individuality
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Facial Expression

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