Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences

Real-time Assessment of Looking Time at Central Environmental Cues for Spontaneous Recall in 35-month-olds

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Evidence supporting the assumption that spontaneous recall of previously experienced events is triggered by distinct, environmental cues has hitherto exclusively been based on post-hoc reasoning and not on direct, in vivo examination. Using a novel experimental paradigm, we present the first real-time analyses of 35-month-old’s looking time as spontaneous retrieval unfolds. Twenty-nine middle-to-higher SES children (out of 114 participating) spontaneously recalled having taken part in either a Teddy or a Game event (adjacently placed in two unique boxes) when returning to the lab one week later. Naïve coders registered looking time towards the two dissimilar looking boxes 10 s preceding spontaneous recall. The children having spontaneous recollections looked reliably longer at their Target box (relative to Foil), whereas this was not the case for a group of matched (by gender, event, and CDI) controls producing no spontaneous memories. The findings are important for understanding how visual attention facilitates spontaneous recall.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100995
JournalCognitive Development
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • Spontaneous recall, Cues, Looking time, Memory, Development, Young children

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ID: 202320512