When “it” becomes “mine”: attentional biases triggered by object ownership

David J. Turk, Kim Van Bussel, Joanne L. Brebner, Andrea S. Toma, Olav Krigolson, Todd C. Handy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research has demonstrated that higher-order cognitive processes associated with the allocation of selective attention are engaged when highly familiar self-relevant items are encountered, such as one's name, face, personal possessions and the like. The goal of our study was to determine whether these effects on attentional processing are triggered on-line at the moment self-relevance is established. In a pair of experiments, we recorded ERPs as participants viewed common objects (e.g., apple, socks, and ketchup) in the context of an “ownership” paradigm, where the presentation of each object was followed by a cue indicating whether the object nominally belonged either to the participant (a “self ” cue) or the experimenter (an “other” cue). In Experiment 1, we found that “self ” ownership cues were associated with increased attentional processing, as measured via the P300 component. In Experiment 2, we replicated this effect while demonstrating that at a visual–perceptual level, spatial attention became more narrowly focused on objects owned by self, as measured via the lateral occipital P1 ERP component. Taken together, our findings indicate that self-relevant attention effects are triggered by the act of taking ownership of objects associated with both perceptual and postperceptual processing in cortex.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3725-3733
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Issue number12
Early online date2 Nov 2011
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011

Bibliographical note

D. J. T. was supported by grants from the BBSRC (RGA1149)
and European Research Council (202893).


  • self
  • memory
  • ERP
  • attention


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