Developmental continuity in the processes that underlie spatial recall

John P. Spencer, Alycia M. Hund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated whether children's spatial recall performance shows three separable characteristics: (1) biases away from symmetry axes (geometric effects); (2) systematic drift over delays; and (3) biases toward the exemplar distribution experienced in the task (experience-dependent effects). In Experiment 1, the location of one target within each geometric category was varied. Children's responses showed biases away from a midline axis that increased over delays. In Experiment 2, multiple targets were placed within each category at the same locations used in Experiment 1. After removing geometric effects, 6-year-olds'-but not 11-year-olds'-responses were biased toward the average remembered location over learning. In Experiment 3, children responded to one target more frequently than the others. Both 6- and 11-year-olds showed biases toward the most frequent target over learning. These results provide a bridge between the performance of younger children and adults, demonstrating continuity in the processes that underlie spatial memory abilities across development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-480
Number of pages49
JournalCognitive Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003


  • Cognitive development
  • Developmental continuity
  • Developmental discontinuity
  • Location memory
  • Memory models
  • Models of development
  • Spatial cognition
  • Spatial prototypes
  • Spatial recall
  • Working memory

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