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Psychol Neuropsychiatr Vieil. 2010 Dec;8(4):277-94. doi: 10.1684/pnv.2010.0231.

[Self-reference effect and episodic memory in normal aging and Alzheimer's disease: myth or reality?].

[Article in French]

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Laboratoire de psychologie et neuropsychologie cognitives, CNRS FRE 3292, Groupe Mémoire et Langage, Université Paris Descartes.


The Self is defined as a dynamic structure of self-referent-cognitive processes and a set of multidimensional representations stored in memory. This paper aims to explore the links between the Self and memorization of information, thus we propose to review the Self-reference effect (SRE) on memory processes and its neural basis in young and older adults. The literature reports a strong benefit from self-referencing on the encoding and retrieval processes in episodic memory. Indeed, the individuals demonstrate a better retention of information previously processed in relation with their preexisting self-knowledge. The SRE is supported by a well-known self-schema highly activated in information processing; its involvement would be relatively natural and therefore effortless. Self-referencing also influences the feeling of remembering during recollection via autonoetic consciousness. The cerebral correlates of Self-reference processing involve principally cortical midline structures such as prefrontal, cingular and parietal cortices. Then, we also address the question of the persistence of SRE in Alzheimer's disease. Although patients at an early stage of dementia present anterograde and retrograde amnesia as well as an alteration of their sense of identity, we report first evidences for the persistence of SRE in Alzheimer's disease. Finally, we discuss the perspectives of Self-referencing for the creation of new non-medical therapies of memory deficits.

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