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Title: Individual differences in self-focused attention : relationship to inhibitory control and intrinsic architecture of large-scale networks
Author: de Caso, Irene
ISNI:       0000 0004 7655 7040
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2018
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Self-relevant material presents an encoding advantage termed the self-reference effect (SRE) in which rich pre-existing schemas allow such material to be efficiently encoded. Self-relevant material is also prioritised during information processing, acting as a powerful distractor. Furthermore, activation in the Default Mode Network (DMN), engaged during self-referential processing, has been linked to errors during tasks, suggesting self-focussed attention as a potential source of distraction. The current work explored whether individuals with a stronger SRE, thought to reflect the level of articulation of one's self-schema, would perform worse at inhibitory control tasks that demand sustained attention on the external world. Study 1 and Study 2 confirmed this hypothesis suggesting that poor performance in inhibitory control tasks is at least in part due to attention being diverted towards the self. Study 2 explored the neural underpinnings of such relationships using a cross-sectional resting-state analysis. Connectivity of regions involved in self-referential processing was explored in relation to inhibitory control efficiency scores revealing that individuals with stronger coupling to right inferior frontal gyrus performed better at a Go/No-Go task. Similarly, the Frontoparietal Control Network (FPCN) was more coupled to the ventral striatum, commonly associated with self-relevance assignment, when SREs were smaller. Study 1 also found stronger coupling between DMN and executive control regions for individuals with better memory in the non-self control condition (low SRE), whereas individuals with stronger within DMN coupling had high self-memory scores (high SRE) suggesting integration between DMN and FPCN reduces self-focus. Study 3 measured self-focussed attention using the private self-consciousness scale and revealed the FPCN to be more coupled to fusiform/hippocampus in individuals with higher private self-consciousness scores, potentially reflecting episodic information in the working memory space. Overall we present substantial evidence supporting a strong relationship between self-bias and executive control both at the behavioural and neural levels.
Supervisor: Smallwood, Jonathan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available