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Title: The role of the self in episodic memory : the effect of closeness to others
Author: Han, Yi-Jhong
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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It has been shown that processing information in relation to oneself as opposed to others benefits episodic memory. The cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying this self-reference effect (SRE) are mostly unknown. This thesis addressed these mechanisms by investigating (1) the effect of closeness to others on the SRE and (2) the electrophysiological activities associated with encoding and retrieving information about oneself. Three behavioural and two electrophysiological experiments are reported. In Experiment 1, healthy adults judged the degree to which trait adjectives described themselves, a close other or a distant other. Recognition memory for the adjectives showed a significant SRE for the self over both close and distant others. In Experiment 2, a source memory paradigm to elucidate the type of memory involved in the SRE again showed a significant SRE for the self relative to a close and distant other. In Experiment 3, subjective ratings of self-esteem and Big-Five personality traits were acquired to assess individual differences in the SRE. No significant correlations were found. In Experiments 4 and 5, memory-related brain activity was analysed via event-related potentials (ERPs) and oscillations. Retrieving information about oneself was associated with the mid-frontal and left-parietal ERP old/new effects, whereas retrieving information regarding a close other was associated with a late negative-going effect. Additionally, encoding information about oneself did not affect oscillatory power, but encoding information about a close or distant other was respectively associated with decreases in beta and theta power. In combination, the thesis suggests that (1) closeness to others does not explain the SRE and (2) there are distinct brain activities associated with the encoding and retrieval of information about oneself and others. The self thus seems a psychologically and anatomically specialised affiliation that affects information processing over time.
Supervisor: Otten, L. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available