The self in memory

Locating the surprise mark in the real world indicates mirror self-recognition at 2 years

It is well established that most children recognize themselves in mirrors by the end of infancy (2 years). However, further research is needed to elucidate how the development of self-recognition impacts on children’s cognition and behaviour. One way to address this gap in the literature is to explore the role of self in young children’s event memory.

My PhD research included a series of experiments showing that 3- and 4-year-old children, like adults, are better able to remember items if they are asked to relate them to the self, either physically (by performing an associated action), visually (by viewing the item together with the self-image) or socio-cognitively (by being told they own the item). These advantages imply that physical or cognitive involvement of self has a functional impact on memory as early as 3 years. These effects may be used to improve our understanding of the development of autobiographical memory. To find out more see: Ross, J., Anderson, J.R. & Campbell, R.N. I remember me: Investigating mnemonic self-reference effects in preschool children. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 76, 1-102.

I am now collaborating with Dr. Shelia Cunningham of the University of Abertay and project postdoc Jacqui Hutchison , to explore how developmental self-reference effects may interact with the ontogeny of self-evaluation. This project, titled “The ‘me’ in memory: Exploring the developing self and its influence on cognition” is funded by a 3 year (£106, 336) stipend from the Leverhulme Research Grants Scheme. You can read more about the project in the Leverhulme Newsletter_Jan 2015 and by visiting the ‘me in memory’ project website.