Exploring the self-reference effect in ADHD

Zahra Ahmed*, Sheila J. Cunningham, Josephine Ross, Sinead Rhodes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster

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Objectives: The self-reference effect (SRE) is an extremely reliable memory advantage for information encoded in relation to self, which is linked to increased attention during encoding. The present study examined whether children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) show a typical SRE, or if this is reduced as a result of their attentional difficulties.

Design: The study was a mixed design, comparing children with ADHD and a typically developing (TD) control group on their memory for items encoded in a self-referent and other-referent context.

Methods: There were 32 participants aged 5 - 10 years, 16 in the ADHD group and 16 TD children matched closely for chronological age, verbal age, non-verbal IQ and sex. Participants were tested using an evaluative self-referencing paradigm, in which a series of object images were presented with an image of either the child’s own or another child’s face. On each trial, the child was asked whether or not the child pictured would like the object. Recognition and source memory for the objects were then assessed.

Results: TD children displayed the expected SRE, remembering more items shown with their own face. However, this effect was not found within the ADHD sample.

Conclusions: These findings are the first to show that children with ADHD may not benefit from the usually robust SRE. The results support the suggestion that attention is a prerequisite for the enhanced encoding of incoming self-referential information, and have implications for the use of SRE strategies in the classroom for children with attentional difficulties.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2018
EventDevelopmental Psychology Section Annual Conference - Crowne Plaza Liverpool City Centre, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Duration: 12 Sept 201814 Sept 2018


ConferenceDevelopmental Psychology Section Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleDEV 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • ADHD
  • Self-referencing


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