Assessing the neural correlates of self-enhancement bias: A transcranial magnetic stimulation study

Virginia S.Y. Kwan, Veronica Barrios, Giorgio Ganis, Jamie Gorman, Claudia Lange, Monisha Kumar, Alejandro Shepard, Julian Paul Keenan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Considerable research has focused on overly positive self-perceptions (self-enhancement), and yet little is known about the underlying neural mechanisms. The present study sought to assess the neural correlates of self-enhancement by applying Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) to three brain regions. Twelve participants rated their best friend, as well as the self on a set of desirable or undesirable traits while TMS pulses were delivered in a virtual lesion manner. During the baseline condition (Sham TMS), participants produced more desirable and fewer undesirable ratings for themselves as compared to their best friend, showing self-enhancement. Compared to Sham TMS, TMS delivered to the Medial Prefrontal Cortex (MPFC) reduced self-enhancement whereas TMS delivered to the Supplementary Motor Area (SMA) and the precuneus did not. Together, these findings suggest that the MPFC may influence self-enhancement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-385
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Medial prefrontal cortex
  • Self-deception
  • Self-enhancement
  • Self-perception
  • TMS
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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