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J Exp Child Psychol. 1989 Apr;47(2):259-73.

Time and again: effects of repetition and retention interval on 2 year olds' event recall.

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Department of Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322.


How and what very young children remember is a central question for understanding the course of memory development. In this research, we examined the effects of two factors on 2-year-old children's ability to recall novel events: repetition of the experience and time since experience. Twenty 24-month-old and twenty 28-month-old children participated in unusual laboratory play events. Half of the children returned after a 2-week delay and again after a 3-month delay (repeated experience condition); the remaining children returned only after 3 months (single experience condition). Memory was assessed by asking children to reenact the events. Recall was generally accurate, and there were no significant effects of age. All children recalled more information about the activities associated with the event than about the objects. Surprisingly, children in the repeated experience condition recalled as much about the events at the 3-month retention interval as at the 2-week retention interval. Further, children in this condition recalled more information at the 3-month retention interval than children in the single experience condition, suggesting that reexperiencing an event may guard against long-term forgetting.

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