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An associative-activation theory of children's and adults' memory illusions

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>02/2009
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Memory and Language
Issue number2
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)229-251
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The effects of associative strength and gist relations on rates of children's and adults' true and false memories were examined in three experiments. Children aged 5-11 and university-aged adults participated in a standard Deese/Roediger-McDermott false memory task using DRM and category lists in two experiments and in the third, children memorized lists that differed in associative strength and semantic cohesion. In the first two experiments, half of the participants were primed before list presentation with gist-relevant cues and the results showed that: (1) both true and false memories increased with age, (2) true recall was higher than false recall for all ages, (3) at all ages, false memory rates were determined by backward associative strength, and (4) false memories varied predictably with changes in associative strength but were unaffected by gist manipulations (category structure or gist priming). in the third experiment, both gist and associative strength were varied orthogonally and the results showed that regardless of age, children's (5) true recall was affected by gist manipulations (semantic cohesion) and (6) false recall was affected by backward associative strength. These findings are discussed in the context of models of false memory illusions and continuities in memory development more generally. (C) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.