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Cogn Process. 2018 Feb;19(1):87-94. doi: 10.1007/s10339-017-0842-5. Epub 2017 Oct 20.

The development of episodic future thinking in middle childhood.

Author information

1
Cosmic Lab, Department of Philosophy, Communication and Performing Arts, Roma Tre University, Via Ostiense, 234-236, 00146, Rome, Italy. francesco.ferretti@uniroma3.it.
2
Cosmic Lab, Department of Philosophy, Communication and Performing Arts, Roma Tre University, Via Ostiense, 234-236, 00146, Rome, Italy.
3
Department of Neuroscience, Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry Unit, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, IRCCS, Piazza Sant'Onofrio 4, 00165, Rome, Italy.
4
Department of Languages and Literatures, Communication, Education, and Society, University of Udine, Via Margreth, 3, 33100, Udine, Italy. andrea.marini@uniud.it.
5
Claudiana - Landesfachhochschule für Gesundheitsberufe, Bozen, Italy. andrea.marini@uniud.it.

Abstract

The ability to imagine future events (episodic future thinking-EFT) emerges in preschoolers and further improves during middle childhood and adolescence. In the present study, we focused on the possible cognitive factors that affect EFT and its development. We assessed the ability to mentally project forward in time of a large cohort of 135 6- to 11-year-old children through a task with minimal narrative demands (the Picture Book Trip task adapted from Atance and Meltzoff in Cogn Dev 20(3):341-361. doi:10.1016/j.cogdev.2005.05.001, 2005) in order to avoid potential linguistic effects on children's performance. The results showed that this task can be used to assess the development of EFT at least until the age of 8. Furthermore, EFT scores correlated with measures of phonological short-term and verbal working memory. These results support the possibility that cognitive factors such as working memory play a key role in EFT.

KEYWORDS:

Cognitive development; Episodic future thinking; Mental time travel; Working memory

PMID:
29052802
DOI:
10.1007/s10339-017-0842-5
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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