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Distinct environmental cues trigger spontaneous recall of past events in 3- and 4-year-old children even after long delays

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Verbally reported long-term memory for past events typically improves with age. However, such findings are based exclusively on studies, where children are directly asked to recall. The present study showed that when 3- (n = 113, 59 girls) and 4-year-olds (n = 113, 62 girls), predominantly White, were brought back to a distinct lab-setting after either 1-, 4.5-, or 13-weeks, children—regardless of age and delay—spontaneously recalled the distinct event experienced at their first visit (all Cohen’s ds > 1.00). Meanwhile, the oldest children outperformed the youngest when being asked directly to retrieve the event (ηp2 > .088). These findings suggest that spontaneous retrieval facilitated by distinct environmental cues provides a short-cut to young children’s event memories.
TidsskriftChild Development
Sider (fra-til)941-955
Antal sider15
StatusUdgivet - jul. 2022

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