Table

Schedule of Conditions, Reinstatement Experiment 6: Effects of New Information

Condition

Training

Reminder

Video

Test

Objects + actions

Day 1

Week 10 —

old objects + old actions

Week 10

New objects

Day 1

Week 10 —

new objects + old actions

Week 10

New actions

Day 1

Week 10 —

old objects + new actions

Week 10

New objects + new actions

Day 1

Week 10 —

new objects + new actions

Week 10

Source: Sheffield (2004).

Source: Sheffield (2004).

different objects, for example, pulling a string on a stuffed, Alvin the Chipmunk toy instead of Mickey Mouse. In the new actions videos, the experimenter performed new actions on the same objects that children had used during training, for example, removing Mickey Mouse's shoes instead of pulling a string to make him talk. In the new objects + new actions videos, the experimenter performed new actions on new objects, for example, taking the shoes off the stuffed Alvin toy if children had seen an experimenter pull Mickey Mouse's string. This condition controlled for the potential reinstatement effect of watching a video involving actions on objects. Because the previous study had shown that children who viewed a video of an experimenter performing actions on objects 24 hours prior to testing without prior training performed no more actions than children who had been trained to perform the actions but had not been reminded, reminder only control conditions were not included in this experiment.

Results from this experiment are shown in Table 9.8. Results indicated that children who viewed reminders that included changes in action information, either new actions on old objects or new actions on new objects, were not effective in reinstating recall. In contrast, videos that included original action information, either old actions on new objects or all original information, were effective reminders (the difference in recall between these conditions was not significant). Thus, reinstatement only occurred when the original action information was shown, regardless of whether objects were different. Action information was more important for reinstatement than object information. This finding is particularly interesting in light of the findings from the previous study indicating that reinstatement occurred even with the deletion of action information. Those findings indicated that 18-month-olds did not require action information to be specified in a reminder in order for reinstatement to occur; they were reminded of past actions by viewing associated objects without associated actions.

We may be able to account for this asymmetry by examining the nature of the task children were presented with. Recall that children were encouraged to complete activities that relied heavily on action information during these experiments. We believe that by at least 18 months, children are attending to information about how objects work, particularly when the information is crucial to successful completion of a task. In gleaning this information, children can begin to predict the way other, similar objects will act, particularly if the objects are perceptually similar and replaceable. In contrast, especially in these kinds of action-oriented tasks, young children may not see two actions performed on the same object as being the same event, and may maintain the two representations separately. However, there are different kinds of experiences, such as social interactions, which do not include specific actions taken upon specific objects. Under these circumstances, the asymmetric difference found in this experiment may be minimized.

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