By being the first research to systematically chart the emergence of self-concept and self-memory systems across childhood and the relationship between them, our project will elicit a significant advancement of basic research knowledge.
The project also has the potential for real world impact, since this knowledge should improve our ability to apply self-memory effects to support learning in educational contexts. The effects can also be used as tools to elucidate clinical developmental disorders. For example, a lack of self-memory effects have previously been used as evidence for a deficit in the self-concept development of children with autism.
The final strand of our project (supported by a Masters by Research student Zahra Ahmed) aims to apply the self-reference effect to provide an educational intervention for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Recent work from Dr. Cunningham’s lab group suggests that applying self-referencing strategies in the classroom in typically developing populations provides learning benefits by increasing student engagement and supporting memory (Turk et al, 2015).
We are hopeful that self-referencing strategies may offer a useful intervention for children with ADHD. This population struggles with attention and memory, but are thought to have a typically developing self-concept. An additional aim of this project strand is to check whether children with ADHD show basic self-reference effects. This would support the untested assumption that their self-system functions as in the typical population.