Episodic Memory Development in Childhood: Contributions from Brain Electrical Activity and Executive Functions
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Episodic memory is a critical component of human cognition. Episodic memory involves recollection of the contextual details surrounding an event, the capacity for mental time travel of past and future events, and is characterized by the subjective awareness that an event has been personally experienced. It is fundamental to our understanding of this complex memory system to examine how episodic memory emerges during the course of development. The present investigation explored the developmental improvement in episodic memory processing assessing recollection of factual information and the source of this information (i.e., source memory) between early to middle childhood. The electrophysiological (EEG) correlates of fact and source memory processing and measures of executive function were also examined as potential sources of variation in episodic memory. The focus of Study 1 was to examine source memory development in early childhood in a sample of 4- and 6-year-olds. Results revealed that older children were better able to recall both fact and source information. Source memory measures were correlated to early executive ability, namely measures of working memory, inhibitory control and set-shifting. Frontal EEG accounted for unique variation in fact recall but not source recall, whereas temporal EEG did not predict fact or source recall performance. The focus of Study 2 was to examine source memory development in middle childhood in a sample of 6- and 8-year-olds. Older children were better on fact recall, but both ages were comparable on source recall. Frontal EEG uniquely predicted fact recall performance beyond the contribution of age and language. Both frontal and parietal EEG and executive function predicted variation in source recall performance. In contrast, temporal EEG did not uniquely predict fact or source recall performance. Lastly, Study 3 was a longitudinal investigation of source memory between early and middle childhood. Although age-related increases in performance were evident, Time 1 and Time 2 source memory measures were not correlated. This investigation contributes to our understanding of the developmental changes in source memory processing between early and middle childhood, and identifies that patterns of frontal and parietal brain activity and executive function skills contribute to early episodic memory formation.
- Doctoral Dissertations