Quantifying attentional effects on the fidelity and biases of visual working memory in young children

Sylvia B Guillory, Teodora Gliga, Zsuzsa Kaldy

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12 Citations (Scopus)
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Attentional control enables us to direct our limited resources to accomplish goals. The ability to flexibly allocate resources helps to prioritize information and inhibit irrelevant/distracting information. We examined developmental changes in visual working memory (VWM) fidelity in 4- to 7-year-old children and the effects that a distracting non-target object can exert in biasing their memory representations. First, we showed that VWM fidelity improves from early childhood to adulthood. Second, we found evidence of working memory load on recall variability in children and adults. Next, using cues to manipulate attention, we found that older children are able to construct a more durable memory representation for an object presented following a non-target using a pre-cue (that biases encoding before presentation) compared with a retro-cue (that signals which item to recall after presentation). In addition, younger children had greater difficulties maintaining an item in memory when an intervening item was presented. Lastly, we found that memory representations are biased toward a non-target when it is presented following the target and away from a non-target when it precedes the target. These bias effects were more pronounced in children compared with adults. Together, these results demonstrate changes in attention over development that influence VWM memory fidelity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-161
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Early online date22 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes

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