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We propose a new account of how self-reference affects information processing. We report evidence that self-reference affects the binding of memory to source, the integration of parts into perceptual wholes, and the ability to switch from a prior association to new associations. Self-reference also influences the integration of different stages of processing, linking attention to decision making, and affects the coupling between brain regions mediating self-representation and attention to the environment. Taken together, the data suggest that self-reference acts as a form of 'integrative glue' which can either enhance or disrupt performance, depending on the task context. We discuss the implications for understanding the self, and future directions for research.

Original publication




Journal article


Trends Cogn Sci

Publication Date





719 - 728


decision-making, memory, perception, self-reference, Decision Making, Humans, Memory, Mental Processes, Perception, Self Concept