Young Children’s Episodic Memory Study
“Who was in the jungle?”
Background to our study
Episodic memory is conscious, or ‘re-experiential’, memory for autobiographical events – such as recalling having breakfast yesterday. We have found, in previous studies, that children as young as two-and-a-half years old have a form of episodic memory. However this only consists in the ability to relate WHAT happened WHERE and WHEN. A more sophisticated kind of episodic memory is one in which the child can self-consciously think back and consider herself stationed in the past as an experiencer of events. We study this in our present work. We ask when children can use spatial and temporal cues to work out whether the occluded video-image of a child seeing something was indeed themselves or whether it was another child.
Click here to see a poster about episodic memory which we presented at Cambridge University's Science Festival open day.
The Jungle room game
Our playroom has been concerted into a schematic jungle in which there are two ‘trees’ topped with lights. On the first day, the child sits before the trees and listens out for monkey sounds. Simultaneously with these sounds, the trees light up: both together, left-then-right, or right-then-left. Let’s say
that the child sees left-then-right. The next day she is shown three video records of a child before the trees, with the image of the child occluded. Only in the case in which the occluded child sits before the left-then-right sequence could this be the child herself. Will children be able to work this out and say that this was a record of their past experience?
The children also play a number of additional ‘games’, which assess different aspects of cognitive development and which we think might be related to children’s episodic memory.
These are games which test children’s ability to think about differing perspectives, their understanding of mental concepts (a “theory of mind” test), their ability to make certain kinds of inferences known as ‘Modus Tollens’ reasoning, and finally a standard test of children’s vocabulary size.
Age range: 4 to 6.5 years.
Visits: two visits on successive days. Appointments on the weekend and in the evenings are possible.
Expenses: We are happy to pay £8 towards expenses.
For study flier click here.
Our address: The Craik-Marshall Building, The Downing Site, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EB. Click here for map.
To arrange an appointment call Pat Burns on 01223 764413 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.