The accessibility of memory items in children’s working memory

Roome, Hannah and Towse, John (2016) The accessibility of memory items in children’s working memory. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This thesis investigates the processes and systems that support recall in working memory. In particular it seeks to apply ideas from the adult-based dual-memory framework (Unsworth & Engle, 2007b) that claims primary memory and secondary memory are independent contributors to working memory capacity. These two memory systems are described as domain-general processes that combine control of attention and basic memory abilities to retain information. The empirical contribution comprises five experiments that specify how adults and children access, manage and report memory representations held in working memory. They provide a developmental perspective of the characteristics of these cognitive constructs. This thesis has combined traditional measures of primary and secondary memory (free recall) and methods used to classify individuals recall into the two independent systems, with new convergent paradigms in order to identify developmental trajectories of memory performance. The findings point towards qualitative and quantitative differences between how adults and children focus their recall from working memory. Primary and secondary memory capacities increase across childhood, but they seemingly develop at different rates. Between the ages of five- to ten-years children are reliant on the active maintenance of memory items within immediate memory, as controlled search and retrieval processes were far more demanding on children’s cognitive system. However, they did benefit from structured recall support and self-driven search processes, facilitating secondary memory. In addition, the experiments emphasised the impact of presentation modality on recall characteristics that are likely to be observed, and the susceptibility of information loss. Whilst auditory information reveals itself as highly accessible, it is also vulnerable to displacement and interference. In contrast visual representations appear to be more robust. Overall, the thesis will discuss the conceptual and empirical implications of whether the dual memory framework can help understand how working memory develops.

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Thesis (PhD)
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17 Aug 2016 08:40
Last Modified:
04 Mar 2024 01:11