Investigating the relationship between self-referencing and visuospatial working memory: can ownership improve working memory?

Zahra Ahmed*, Sheila J. Cunningham, Janet McLean

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster

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Abstract

Objectives: The self has been implicated in reducing working memory load in tasks, but till date this has not been measured systematically. The present study is the first to test this assumption, by investigating the impact of ownership, a form of self-referencing, on visuospatial working memory (VSWM).

Design: The experiment was a within-subjects design, measuring the effect of ownership (self-owned vs. experimenter-owned) on VSWM span.

Method: 94 children (45 female, 49 male) aged 7 to 9 participated in the study. Participants firstly completed a digital sorting task, which was used to elicit self and other ownership. The task involved viewing objects, and based on a coloured cue, sorting the object into the participant’s or experimenter’s box. Following this, a Corsi-Block-Tapping Test (CBTT) was administered. This is a commonly used measure of VSWM which involves repeating a presented sequence of up to 9 blocks. An adapted version of the CBTT was created, in which to-be-remembered sequences involved the presentation of self-owned, experimenter-owned and control images to test whether a VSWM span bias would occur under the owned objects condition.

Results: Although VSWM increased across ages, there was no significant difference between participant’s VSWM memory across the conditions.

Conclusions: The findings contradict previous proposed explanations of the influence of self on information processing. The effect, however, could be explained by a weak ownership link. As this is the first study to explore the relationship, the next step is to replicate the study with adaptations to the ownership paradigm methodology before further investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2019
EventCognitive Psychology Section & Developmental Psychology Section Joint Conference 2019 - Best Western Plus Stoke on Trent Moat House, Stoke on Trent, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Sep 20196 Sep 2019
https://www.bps.org.uk/events/cognitive-psychology-section-developmental-psychology-section-joint-conference-2019

Conference

ConferenceCognitive Psychology Section & Developmental Psychology Section Joint Conference 2019
Abbreviated titleCOGDEV 2019
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityStoke on Trent
Period4/09/196/09/19
Internet address

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    Ahmed, Z., Cunningham, S. J., & McLean, J. (2019). Investigating the relationship between self-referencing and visuospatial working memory: can ownership improve working memory?. Poster session presented at Cognitive Psychology Section & Developmental Psychology Section Joint Conference 2019, Stoke on Trent, United Kingdom.