Tuning of temporo-occipital activity by frontal oscillations during virtual mirror exposure causes erroneous self-recognition
Self-face recognition, a hallmark of self-awareness, depends on 'off-line' stored information about one's face and 'on-line' multisensory-motor face-related cues. The brain mechanisms of how on-line sensory-motor processes affect off-line neural self-face representations are unknown. This study used 3D virtual reality to create a 'virtual mirror' in which participants saw an avatar's face moving synchronously with their own face movements. Electroencephalographic (EEG) analysis during virtual mirror exposure revealed mu oscillations in sensory-motor cortex signalling on-line congruency between the avatar's and participants' movements. After such exposure and compatible with a change in their off-line self-face representation, participants were more prone to recognize the avatar's face as their own, and this was also reflected in the activation of face-specific regions in the inferotemporal cortex. Further EEG analysis showed that the on-line sensory-motor effects during virtual mirror exposure caused these off-line visual effects, revealing the brain mechanisms that maintain a coherent self-representation, despite our continuously changing appearance.