Information processing is enhanced when the self is salient. The literature on this self-reference effect has compared self-referent judgments to a variety of others – celebrities, close friends, and strangers. However, research has yet to examine how different components of the self contribute to the self-reference effect, or the cognitive processes underlying it. The current study fills this gap by examining how the authentic and presented self contribute to the self-reference effect. Participants (N = 44) judged whether 400 trait adjectives represented their authentic and presented selves while their brain activity was recorded with electroencephalography. Behaviorally, participants endorsed more positive (vs. negative) traits as self-descriptive. This effect was significantly stronger for the presented (vs. authentic) self. When making judgements about the presented self, participants were faster to endorse positive (vs. negative) traits. An opposite pattern emerged when making judgments about the authentic self. Event-related potential analyses revealed that the N170 was larger for negative (vs. positive) traits descriptive of the authentic self, but the opposite pattern emerged for traits descriptive of the presented self. The P300 was larger for positive (vs. negative) traits descriptive of the authentic (but not presented) self. The LPP was larger for negative (vs. positive) traits descriptive of the presented (but not authentic) self. These results suggest that self-referential information processing is contingent on the aspect of the self that are salient.