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Developmental sensitivity to temporal grouping effects in short-term memory.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date06/1999
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
Number of pages21
Original languageEnglish


Four experiments investigate developmental changes in the effect of providing time-based cues to lists for immediate recall. Data both provide a context for adult research and have implications for children’s memory processes. Sets of letters (Experiments 1-3) or numbers (Experiment 4) were presented to children with either regular inter-item temporal intervals (ungrouped lists) or pauses to segment sets (grouped lists). Experiment 1 indicated a developmental shift between 4 and 8 years of age, with an increasing recall bene"t from temporal group structure for visually presented "xed-length lists. Experiment 2 confirmed the developmental shift with visual presentation using a span procedure, with sensitivity to temporal grouping becoming apparent by the age of 8 years. Experiments 3 and 4 revealed a similar developmental pattern with a span procedure using auditory stimuli. In summary, children capitalise on pauses in visual and auditory material at approximately the same age. There was no evidence that auditory presentation induces a fundamentally different grouping process or precocious strategy use, contrary to some previous accounts. Data are most consistent with the argument that grouping is a relatively late-developing, strategic process.