Developmental changes in the engagement of episodic retrieval processes and their relationship with working memory during the period of middle childhood.

Sinead Rhodes, Derek Murphy, Peter Hancock

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We examined the development of children’s engagement of the episodic retrieval
processes of recollection and familiarity and their relationship with working memory (WM). Ninety-six children (24 in four groups aged 8, 9, 10, and 11 years) and 24 adults performed an episodic memory (EM) task involving old/new, remember/know (R/K), and source memory judgements and numerous WM tasks that assessed verbal and spatial components of WM and delayed short-term memory (STM). Developmental changes were observed in EM with younger children (8-, 9-, 10-year-olds) making fewer remember responses than 11-year-olds and adults while 11-year-olds did not differ from adults. Only children aged 10 years plus showed a relationship between EM and WM. EM was related to verbal executive WM in 10- and 11-year-old children suggesting that children at this stage use verbal strategies to aid EM. In contrast, EM was related to spatial executive WM in adults. The engagement of episodic retrieval processes appears to be selectively related to executive components of verbal and spatial WM, the pattern of which differs in children and adults.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)865-882
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date6 Jan 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2011


  • episodic memory
  • children
  • retrieval
  • working memory
  • executive function

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