What can we learn about immediate memory from the development of children's free recall?

Jarrold, Christopher and Hall, Debbora and Harvey, Caroline E. and Tam, Helen and Towse, John N. and Zarandi, Amy L. (2015) What can we learn about immediate memory from the development of children's free recall? The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 68 (9). pp. 1871-1894. ISSN 1747-0218

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We ask the question: Which aspects of immediate memory performance improve with age? In two studies, we reexamine the widely held view that primary memory capacity estimates derived from children's immediate free recall are age invariant. This was done by assessing children's immediate free-recall accuracy while also measuring the order in which they elected to recall items (Experiment 1) and by encouraging children to begin free recall with items from towards the end of the presented list (Experiment 2). Across samples aged between 5 and 8 years we replicated the previously reported age-related changes in free-recall serial position functions when aggregated across all trials of the standard task, including an absence of age differences in the recency portion of this curve. However, we also show that this does not reflect the fact that primary memory capacity is constant across age. Instead, when we incorporate order of report information, clear age differences are evident in the recall of list-final items that are output at the start of a participant's response. In addition, the total amount that individuals recalled varied little across different types of free-recall tasks. These findings have clear implications for the use of immediate free recall as a means of providing potential indices of primary memory capacity and in the study of the development of immediate memory.

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Journal Article
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The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
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© 2015 The Author(s) published by Taylor & Francis. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted.
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16 Mar 2015 11:22
Last Modified:
20 Sep 2023 00:41