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The development of visual short-term memory for multifeature items during middle childhood

Riggs, Kevin J.; Simpson, Andrew; Potts, Thomas


Andrew Simpson

Thomas Potts


Visual short-term memory (VSTM) research suggests that the adult capacity is limited to three or four multifeature object representations. Despite evidence supporting a developmental increase in capacity, it remains unclear what the unit of capacity is in children. The current study employed the change detection paradigm to investigate both the capacity and nature of the representations of VSTM in 7-year-olds, 10-year-olds, and adults. Two experimental conditions were used to compare memory performance for single-feature objects with that for multifeature objects. Results provided further and more convincing evidence for a developmental increase in VSTM. Furthermore, the “loading up” of features in the multifeature condition was found to incur no significant performance deficit in all age groups. These findings are explained in terms of a developmental increase in the number of integrated multifeature object representations in VSTM.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2011-04
Journal Journal Of Experimental Child Psychology
Print ISSN 0022-0965
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 108
Issue 4
Pages 802-809
Institution Citation Riggs, K. J., Simpson, A., & Potts, T. (2011). The development of visual short-term memory for multifeature items during middle childhood. Journal of experimental child psychology, 108(4), (802-809). doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2010.11.006. ISSN 0022-0965
Keywords Visual memory; Capacity; Development; Object file; Change detection; Childhood
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