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.
- Decision making