Development of Relational Memory in Middle Childhood: Evidence from Eye Movements
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractRelational memory refers to memory for arbitrary associations among components of experience, and is thought to be critically dependent on the hippocampus. Previous studies suggested that age-related differences in relational memory were consistent with a protracted developmental trajectory of hippocampus. Recently, eye tracking studies conducted in infants have concluded that eye movement detection could provide one indirect index of relational memory and hippocampal function in infants as young as 6 months. While the eye-based memory expression has been detected in adults on relational memory tasks, this effect has been less studied across development, and the few studies that have been conducted have suggested discontinuity in eye-movement behaviors across age. The purpose of the current study is to examine the development of relational memory in middle childhood (7-8 years of age) by utilizing a face-scene binding paradigm. Behavioral results revealed that adults showed higher identification accuracy than children when recalling matching faces based on scene cues. The eye movement data indicated that adults showed stronger and more rapid looking preference to matching face during correct test trials, and the proportion of viewing time towards matching face was significantly greater than children on incorrect trials (while performance was below chance in both age groups). Therefore, eye movements do index relational memory and correct responses but show rapid onset only in adults. We discuss these results in the context of the neural systems that may support eye movement behavior across the lifespan and conclude that more work is required to determine the nature and strength of these effects prior to adopting eye-movements as a continuous measure of relational memory across development.
Degree ProgramGraduate College