The Integrative Self: How Self-Reference Integrates Perception and Memory

Trends Cogn Sci. 2015 Dec;19(12):719-728. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2015.08.015. Epub 2015 Oct 4.


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.

Keywords: decision-making; memory; perception; self-reference.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making / physiology
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Memory / radiation effects*
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Self Concept*