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With development, list recall includes more chunks, not just larger ones.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • Nelson Cowan
  • Anna Hismjatullina
  • Angela M. AuBuchon
  • J. Scott Saults
  • Neil Horton
  • Kathy Leadbitter
  • John N. Towse

Associated organisational unit

Journal publication date09/2010
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Number of pages13
Original languageEnglish


The nature of the childhood development of immediate recall has been difficult to determine. There could be a developmental increase in either the number of chunks held in working memory or the use of grouping to make the most of a constant capacity. In 3 experiments with children in the early elementary school years and adults, we show that improvements in the immediate recall of word and picture lists come partly from increases in the number of chunks of items retained in memory. This finding was based on a distinction between access to a studied group of items (i.e., recall of at least 1 item from the group) and completion of the accessed group (i.e., the proportion of the items recalled from the group). Access rates increased with age, even with statistical controls for completion rates, implicating development of capacity in chunks. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)

Bibliographic note

This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.