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Humans have the inherent ability to rapidly learn the social salience of a stimulus enhancing survival. There are a considerable number of studies on the effect of self-association in social psychology that have shown that there is enhanced importance assigned to self-associated objects, increased preference, and stronger memory. Self- and social processing, however, is not limited to the assessment of referential attributes, introspection, and inferences on mental states. The processing of salient information in the environment is suggested to involve the bilateral ventral frontoparietal attentional network, with the left hemisphere specifically involved in processing salient information based on its potential behavioral relevance. We suggest that the coupling between the vmPFC and LpSTS reflects a neural network that registers the social saliency of an external stimulus, reflecting its personal significance to the observer. The strong triggering of the social saliency network by self-associated stimuli, new associations between shapes and the label for a stranger activated a dorsal front parietal control network.

Original publication





Book title

Attention, Perception and Action: Selected Works of Glyn Humphreys

Publication Date



245 - 260