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Child Dev. 1983 Aug;54(4):888-97.

Very young children's memory for the location of objects in a large-scale environment.


2 experiments were carried out to investigate 18- to 30-month-old children's memory for the location of a hidden object. In the first experiment, young children were observed in 2 different memory-for-location tasks, both conducted in their own homes. In 1, a toy was hidden in a natural location, and in the other it was hidden in one of a set of boxes with picture cues on top of them. Memory performance was significantly better when the toy was hidden within the natural environment. The effect of different types of hiding locations was examined further in the second experiment. No age differences were found when an object was hidden either in the natural environment or in 1 of a set of unmarked boxes (although performance was better in the former condition). However, in the third condition the older subjects (24-30 months) effectively used a landmark cue (a nearby piece of furniture) to help them remember in which plain box a toy had been hidden, but the young subjects (18-22 months) did not profit from such potential cues. The results, as well as some previous research with delayed-response tasks, were interpreted as reflecting developmental changes in very young children's ability to exploit available cues. The pattern of results suggested the possibility that 2-year-old children are capable of a simple form of mnemonic strategy, actively associating an available cue with the information to be remembered.

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