Reinstatement in Toddlers and Preschool Children

To date, there has been scant investigation of effects of reexposure on toddlers and preschool children. In one study, Howe et al. (1993) investigated reinstatement of preschool children's memories using a hiding task. Children from 2 to 3 years visited a laboratory playroom and were shown the hiding places of 16 toys in the room. Half of the children returned 1 week later and were shown the toys again, but were not shown the hiding locations. Three weeks later, when all children were tested for recall, children who had participated in the reinstatement session recalled more locations than did children who received no reinstatement. This study showed that object information without action information was effective in reinstatement when the original context was also part of the reinstatement environment.

Our research examines effects of different types of reminders on children's recall from 14 to 36 months of age children including live modeling, videos, photographs, and scale model demonstrations. Our research goals are twofold. We want to understand the memory mechanisms involved in reinstatement during this age period and we also want to know how reinstatement can impact event recall in real-world contexts. Because it is likely that in real-world contexts children's reexposure to event information takes the form of viewing photographs or home videos, we have studied how these types of symbolic or representational reminders reinstate children's event memories. This, in turn, requires that we investigate how children understand the representational functions of these media. Our research therefore brings together literatures on memory development, memory reinstatement, and children's understanding of symbolic media. What follows is a discussion of our research program and how it relates to research on the development of event memory and children's understanding of symbolic media. We conclude with, a discussion of our views on the role of representational reminders in the development of children's long-term memory.

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