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J Exp Child Psychol. 1991 Feb;51(1):123-38.

The effect of spacing repetitions on the recognition memory of young children and adults.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Villanova University, PA 19085.


In Experiment 1, preschoolers, first graders, and third graders were presented a list of pictures that included twice-presented items separated by varying numbers of intervening items. Performance on a subsequent recognition test improved as the spacing between repetitions increased, but the effect of spacing did not interact reliably with grade level. In Experiment 2a, we replicated the spaced-repetition effect in young children and found a similar effect in college students. In Experiment 2b, we varied the conditions under which lists were presented to college students and again found a spacing function that was comparable to that of very young children. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that spaced-repetition effects in recognition are produced by fundamental memory mechanisms that are operational at a very early age and which undergo little change with development.

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