The salient self: the left intraparietal sulcus responds to social as well as perceptual-salience after self-association

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes


Perceptual learning is associated with experience-based changes in
stimulus salience. Here, we use a novel procedure to show that
learning a new association between a self-label and a neutral stimulus
produces fast alterations in social salience measured by interference
when targets associated with other people have to be selected
in the presence of self-associated distractors. Participants associated
neutral shapes with either themselves or a friend, over a short
run of training trials. Subsequently, the shapes had to be identified in
hierarchical (global–local) forms. The data show that giving a shape
greater personal significance by associating it with the self had
effects on visual selection equivalent to altering perceptual salience.
Similar to previously observed effects linked to when perceptually
salient distractors are ignored, effects of a self-associated distractor
also increased activation in the left intraparietal cortex sulcus. The
results show that self-associations to sensory stimuli rapidly modulate
neural responses in a manner similar to changes in perceptual
saliency. The self-association procedure provides a new way to understand
how personal significance affects behavior.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1060–1068
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number4
Early online date27 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


  • fMRI, Heirarchical stimuli, perceptual salience, self-association, ultrafast learning